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What Does the Mayor Do? (+ Other Woodstock Officials)

One of the most common questions I'm asked is "what does a mayor do?" Article IX of the Constitution of Georgia, which guarantees the right of "Home Rule" to citizens and the more than 500 cities in our state, enables local governments to pass their own laws and govern within the constitutional bounds and limitations set by the legislature. Each city possesses a charter granted by the Georgia General Assembly.

These charters range from "strong mayor-council" structures where the mayor serves as the chief executive and runs daily operations (e.g., Atlanta), to "weak mayor-council" structures where elected officials share daily operations, to the "council-manager" system used in our city. Woodstock City Manager Jeff Moon explains our city's governing structure by comparing it to that of a publicly traded company, and I believe that is the best way to describe it.

Woodstock citizens elect six City Council members and a mayor. For our corporate comparison, consider this body the Board of Directors. In a Fortune 500 company, the Board is responsible for the company and sets policy direction, but does not manage daily operations. For this purpose, they hire a chief executive officer (CEO), who then hires business unit leaders. Here in the 28th largest city in Georgia, our city manager is much like a CEO.

The city manager has complete administrative authority over the City's operations including the hiring and firing of department heads. He/she drafts the budget, administers City functions, and advises Council.

City Council members oversee administrative activities, assess performance, and set policies. They adopt law, adopt a budget, and hold the civil servants accountable. In the same way a Board is tasked with looking out for shareholders' interests, the Council is committed to keeping citizens and their interests front of mind in all things.

So what does the mayor do? The charter states that he/she shall preside over all Council meetings, be the official ceremonial head of the City, administer oaths and take affidavits, and sign contracts and laws on behalf of the City. The mayor is also granted veto power that can be overridden by Council with a majority vote, and he/she is granted a vote on Council in the case of a tie.

If we look back to our corporate comparison, the mayor serves as the chairman of the Board. A quick Google search will tell you that a Board chair's responsibilities are to head the Board of Directors, provide leadership to the firm's executives and other employees, lead the charge on big-picture decisions, and set the tone for the company's corporate culture. In my opinion, the mayor serves a similar function for the city.

The mayor acts as a facilitator ensuring that staff have the resources they need to execute the elected officials' vision for the city. It is the mayor's job to build a coalition and to set the policy agenda for our city moving forward.

As I have just completed my first year as mayor, I want to say thank you for the honor of serving our families. If you have ideas for ways that I could be doing this job more effectively, please don't hesitate to call me. 

The 157th Georgia General Assembly Update
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