By Syed Aman
Strong Mayor-Council form of Governance
There are a range of models for local governance. Two important models that are common in the United States may be considered for Pakistan. The first model is called strong mayor-council form of governance where the elected mayor is a full time CEO of the city and the council members may or may or may not be a full time position. However, all of them are elected with no political party support.The key to this model is that no member of the local government ( including the mayor) can have a direct political affiliation. In other words they run as independents with no political party having any direct influence or involvement. Houston, Texas is an example using this model. The city has a strong mayor who runs the administration and delegates responsibilities to each department head including police, fire etc. There is another form of governance in this type of model where the mayor and the council are all elected based on their political party affiliation and both the mayor and council work full time to administer the city. The City of Chicago is an example of such a plan. Based on experience, the Chicago plan is not a preferred plan in the United states as it brings politics and corruption and influence peddling into local governance.
City Manager-Mayor-Council form of Local Governance- Everyone is elected with no political party support.
The second model is a city manager-mayor-council form of local governance. This is by far the most common form of local governance model in the United States. In this model, the council and the mayor are elected with no direct political party affiliation. However, in this model the council with a majority vote selects and appoints a city manager to run the local administration. So the powers of the city governance rely heavily on the city manager who has the authority to hire and fire anyone they desire. The City of San Antonio, Texas and Dallas, Texas are two examples.
Local governance laws in Texas allow cities to decide what form of governance they want. It therefore allows cities to develop their own charter and amend those charters through local elections. As Pakistan hopefully moves towards local governance, specific models that are simple and transparent such as described above should be taken into account.
About Syed Aman
Syed Aman is a city planner with over 35 yrs of city planning and local government experience in the United States. Syed earned an M.S. in City Planning and has numerous publications on diversified planning subjects. Syed is also the founder of actionpakistan thinktank and has a keen interest in offering solutions on governance in Pakistan with a special interest in local governance.
By Syed Aman