Vital Qualities to Look for in Your Mayor

Posted by the Communications Officer on the Stewart Strathearn Campaign

The role of Mayor is distinct from that of other Council members – while not having more power, it actual holds more responsibility and more restrictions than the role of Councillor. It deserves some additional criteria to ensure that this position is filled by an individual with solid leadership skills.

Vote for somebody who can do the job, who is willing to do the job, well.

  1. Dispassionate – One should not be able to point out a pet issue held by the mayor. The mayor does not stand on a soapbox but instead listens to and elevates the voices of those on Council and in the Community.
  2. Experienced Leader- in local and county politics as well as other roles- they must be well-rounded and versed in all aspects of municipal governance. Having experience working with both tiers of government as past Mayor or Deputy Mayor is a real asset and prevents lost time in the first year of their term that would otherwise be spent getting the lay of the land.
  3. Compassionate – quality of life of today’s community members can sometimes be overshadowed by long-term needs, fiscal realities, multiple community groups, and sustainability needs. Your mayor can help ensure that all needs are considered (not just the loudest voices) and seek understanding and compromise.
  4. Resilient – willing to make hard decisions in order to secure the long-term sustainability of the Town. It is impossible to make everyone happy. And the mayor will often be the first contact when people need to share their concern and even anger. The mayor needs to be able to listen, to weather the storm – not with a thick skin but with resilience. Resilience gives strength to lean in to the challenges.
  5. Responsible – as Steward of the resources of the community and focused on real and measurable results. Wishing for a bigger budget, more resources, more staff time – is a reality! Acting as though we have one, is unacceptable.
  6. Team Builder -A mayor must be able to build consensus with other people and anticipate the positive and negative results of decisions and actions on the future. The mayor is often in the background rather than the forefront of activity. They ensure that others have opportunities to speak, to shine, to lead.
  7. Respectful – The ability to demonstrate respect for differing viewpoints and consider many facets of complicated issues is absolutely required.
  8. Dedicated – Proactively building relationships with all of council, the CAO, and local leaders, doing the reading, researching how other municipalities and organizations are approaching a challenge, speaking to our Provincial and Federal counterparts, having conversations with staff, reaching out to County staff and counterparts.
  9. Approachable & Responsive – Have an open door for community members to listen to their ideas and concerns and ensure they are heard. Resisting the urge to “fix” the problem in front of you at the expense of the community or employee culture.
  10. Critical thinker – able to take the emotion and noise out of the situation and listen for bias, emotion, distortion and missing details. Possessing a solid BS meter and a refusal to accept sugar-coating or pandering. Being willing to go beyond the surface, social-media level responses and educate, discuss and debate all aspects of the issue.
  11. Financial acumen – Policy makers need to understand financial information and be able to evaluate budgets and financial statements. They need to consider the long-term taxation and budget consequences of decisions.

“Being a good mayor is not about one’s opinion or stance on an issue. It is about vital attributes, characteristics, and qualities that contribute to the short-term and long-term wellbeing of the community – now and into the future.” ~Christina Benty