Editorial: Why Bristol doesn't need a 'Mayor'

Posted 10/29/20

Bristol does not need a mayor and is best served by electing a town administrator to lead its government.

A familiar question for Bristol voters, who have soundly rejected it numerous times …

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Editorial: Why Bristol doesn't need a 'Mayor'

Posted

Bristol does not need a mayor and is best served by electing a town administrator to lead its government.

A familiar question for Bristol voters, who have soundly rejected it numerous times before, Question 2 on the ballot asks if the town should change the title of its highest elected officer from “town administrator” to “mayor.” As we’ve urged in the past, we again suggest a “No” vote on the mayor question.

The first argument in support of electing a “Mayor” begins with the fact that the office itself is elected. Mayors are typically elected; town administrators are typically appointed. The thinking then goes on to assume that mayors get more respect (befitting their status as chosen by the electorate), which leads to more influence and access with state agencies, federal authorities, outside organizations, etc.

However, history has shown the fallacy of this argument. In recent years, Bristol has received enormous riches in terms of state and federal grants. Millions of dollars have poured into parks and recreation projects, the waterfront, open space preservation, the ferry dock, road projects and more.

Despite being led by a pedestrian “town administrator,” the town has been treated wonderfully by outside authorities, including U.S. senators, representatives and state agencies.

A real concern if the town were to elect a “mayor” is the type of candidate it might attract. For decades, the Bristol government has been led by excellent town administrators — mostly skilled executives driven to serve their community honestly and thoughtfully.

We would worry about the quality of folks who might apply (via the ballot) to be the town’s next “Mayor.” The perceived prestige could attract some who are motivated by more personal reasons, such as ego or a desire for power.

That is the last thing Bristol needs at the helm. This community has been very well served by electing steady, honest, hard-working government managers, who work well with the town council, hire good department heads and lead by example. That is the role of the town administrator. That is what Bristol needs now, and in the future.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.