Columbia, SC — The current options for Columbia’s government seem to go from one extreme to another, allowing either a very weak mayor who just chairs the City Council, as Columbia now has, or a very strong mayor who would not only chair council as a voting member but also be the full-time chief executive in charge of city administration.
While most people I know recognize the drawbacks of the current system with no one fully in charge, they are understandably nervous about putting so much power in the hands of one person. I lived in Chicago under the first Mayor Richard Daley and saw how that machine operated, with Daley in complete control. I would not want to see that here.
Why not amend state law to allow another structure that would mirror our form of government at the state and national level with a separation of powers? The mayor would be the elected chief executive who would manage full-time the city administration, but would not be a member of or chair City Council. The mayor also could propose city ordinances and budgets and could veto council-passed ordinances.
This separation of powers would make for better government with more checks and balances and clearer lines of authority.
This suggestion would obviously take some time, while the powers-that-be seem determined to push through a change now. I would like to live long enough to see Columbia for once take the time to think through a major issue and get it right the first time. A change of this magnitude should be carefully considered and planned.