Penzance Mayor Choosing
The recent Mayor choosing in Penzance this year has raised a few questions after I and one other councillor voted against the election of the Mayor. This is the first time this has happened for a good many years and was not a decision which I took lightly. Prior to this formal meeting of the council, a meeting is held where all nominations for the post of Mayor are debated and a vote taken. This year, two nominations were received, so the nomination’s are put to a vote, the outcome of the vote was tied at 10 – 10, the vote was taken a further two times with the same outcome, there is no casting vote. This impasse was only overcome when one of the nominees stood down. The mayor elect is then formally voted into office at the Annual Meeting of the Town Council.
The role of Mayor is a complex one, on one hand you are the public face of the town attending public functions on behalf of the town, representing the town at civic ceremonies, meeting and supporting other groups within the town and further a field, this very public role is an important element of the job. On the other hand, the mayor is the chairman of the council, chairing full town council meetings, as mayor you are also a member of all the councils committees.
The supporters of the mayor elect have stated in the press that it was his turn, this is a phrase I have not heard before in my twelve years as a councillor, certainly regarding mayor choosing, the mayor is not chosen on the basis of turn and never has been, I have also read that the role had become too political, again from an unnamed source, strange then that the elected mayor is a member of a political party and the other nomination very much an independent.
So how do I judge who should be mayor, firstly I look at their ability to carryout the required roles of the mayor, basing this on what I have seen of that person acting as a councillor over their time as an elected member. I do not care if I agree or disagree with them politically. Normally they would have been the chair of one of the committee’s, how have they conducted themselves in this role? Have they done well. What working groups have they volunteered to be members of, what has been their contribution? Is this a person who I feel will represent the town well and finally I look for that indefinable extra that would make them a mayor.
In the past I have not always been in total agreement with those elected to be mayor, but on balance have felt that it could just be me and have been happy to vote for them at the Annual Meeting, sadly on this occasion I could not, I looked at all the factors detailed above, considered my own prejudices and after much thought decided that I could not support their election. I will continue to work as a councillor and continue to offer support to those holding office and hope and trust I'm proved wrong.