Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Mayor for Miami-Dade County (Florida) after a recall

The City of Miami has a mayor separate from Miami-Dade County, where the top elected official is called mayor also (usually county chief elected officials are titled County Executives or Chairman/Chairwoman).

A recall of the Mayor elected in 2010 led to a two-stage special election including a run-off, which was yesterday and was won by Carlos Gimenez. See "Gimenez elected Miami-Dade mayor: Carlos Gimenez pulled off a narrow victory over rival Julio Robaina, the former mayor of Hialeah" from the Miami Herald.

In the article "For new mayor, now comes the hard part," I thought this was useful advice for any politician, and apt for DC (especially given that there are rumblings about a recall effort, because so many locally elected officials are under a cloud, ethically speaking), where the general level of civic discourse feels weak to me:

So what’s a new mayor to do?

Luckily, there’s no shortage of experts offering advice on how to navigate those initial months of leadership. Among them is Robert Hargrove, author of Your First 100 Days in a New Executive Job, who has created guidelines specifically for public officials, many of which have relevance for our new mayor.

They include:

Engage in plenty of dialogue. Resolving some of Miami-Dade’s most pressing problems will require that our diverse communities come together. For the new mayor, success will come in not only listening to those communities, but in getting them to listen to each other.

Set big goals. Tweaks just won’t do when it comes to major challenges such as reforming local government and sparking economic development. These challenges require long-term solutions, and it’s not realistic to expect results in the first 100 days. However, it is realistic to expect the new mayor to clearly state his goals and outline a plan in that time period.

Build political capital by securing early wins. Upcoming budget battles and employee contract negotiations will provide the new mayor with an opportunity to set a new course in county government’s financial future. Compromises will almost certainly be required on all sides. The trick for the mayor will be in preventing compromise on his part from being viewed as weakness.

Allow disagreements to turn into understanding that brings new ideas. Conflict brings change; it also serves as a catalyst for fresh approaches, which is what we’ll need to resolve issues ranging from the county’s mass transit system to charter reform.

Reset your mindset from “I won the election” to “what can we create together?” Given the tone of the campaign that just ended, this could be the most relevant advice of all.

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