Two weeks ago, the professional, highly competent public information officer for the Town of Davidson was summarily replaced by a public relations specialist who had been an adviser to Mayor John Woods in his last political campaign. Why does the mayor – or Town Manager Leamon Brice -- need a spin control spokesperson at $50 thousand a year?
Mr. Woods has denied knowledge and involvement. But the change is consistent with an on-going attempt to enhance the role of the mayor in tightening control over town affairs. Woods is a conscientious leader of the town, but the fact that he means well does not translate into his every act being above suspicion.
NOTE: The Charter of the Town establishes a council-manager form of government; NOT the other way around! The mayor does not have a vote except in case of a tie. And the Town Manager serves at the pleasure of the five elected board members.
There is one impending issue of surpassing importance that would fundamentally alter the dynamic of democratic governance in our small town -- and I do not mean the phantom Red Line commuter or the debilitating MI-Connection debt burden.
Despite the pullback of the idea of four-year staggered terms for commissioners a year ago–when the Board and Mayor were up for re-election–the scheme to dilute the voting franchise and protect incumbents against having to stand for election every two years (as required by every municipal jurisdiction in Mecklenburg County) has been resurrected in 2012.
Overall, the town manager, mayor and mayor-pro-tem Brian Jenest want long-term running room (tenure) to implement policies that would double the size of the town’s population–while radically altering downtown transportation arteries–without the risk of being voted out of office. At times, they seem more interested in responding to regional lobbies--e.g. the Chamber of Commerce--than local concerns in their premier constituency.
However, with two new commissioners on the board, citizens can hope for more policymaking through public debate by the whole town board; and not an agenda manipulated by the town manager out of public view.
Who governs in Davidson?
William E. Jackson, Jr., Davidson
– William E. Jackson, Jr., Davidson