Dallas has never had a strong mayor. Our system of government is based on a city manager who controls the city budget, the city personnel, and the city programs. Although we elect our mayor, the position itself has very little control over what happens in Dallas. The position of mayor could actually be called “chairman of the city council” and “head of marketing” as those are the only real duties assigned to the mayor's position. The city manager, on the other hand, has complete control over the city while not being elected — meaning the city manager is not answerable to the people.
As far as I'm concerned, that's a big problem.
A group calling themselves "Citizens for a Strong Mayor" recently put together enough registered voter signatures to get the issue put on the ballot in our election to be held May 7, 2005.
Regardless of what others may say, this city needs a new form of government. As it's currently implemented, our city government is neither by nor for the people. The city manager does not answer to the people, so we have no direct control over our own government.
Beth Ann Blackwood, a member of "Citizens for a Strong Mayor," recently said, "I am confident that after the discussion has taken place that the people will decide that they want to have greater accountability in government. They want to actually be able to elect or not elect the person in charge of the city."
I agree wholeheartedly. Let's hope she's right in that the people of Dallas will also want to have more direct control over our government. It'll all depend on the proposed solution, though, as not all strong mayor plans are equal.