Kings Mountain is organized and administered by its charter. This charter says that our town is to be run by a Council-Manager form of government. In this system the elected City Council oversees policy and decision making. In turn, the City Council hires one person, the City Manager, to run the functions and administration of the city, its employees, and operations. The City Manager operates in a non-partisan function, staying out of politics and working to make professional decisions in the best interest of the entire community by their knowledge of best practices.
Other towns and cities are managed by a Mayor-Council system. In this method, the elected Mayor is usually in charge of the administration and functions of the city. Sometimes they hire professional management help, but in the case of smaller cities like Kings Mountain they treat the mayor’s office as a full-time job, running the city with the assistance of Council.
In Kings Mountain, the Mayor is elected and serves as a voice for the citizens, and a voice for the Council. The role is largely ceremonial, like a public spokesman role. In essence the mayor has little power, but is a public figure for ribbon cuttings, speaking engagements, and representing the city publicly statewide. In this form of governance, the mayor sometimes has a vote on the council, but in Kings Mountain he does not, keeping the model more towards a figurehead role.
Which is better? Different parts of the country favor different models. The older, decaying northern cities prefer the Council-mayor form of government. The major problem with this form of city governance is that when a new mayor is elected, they fill the administration with their political supporters, usually unqualified and at high salaries. And look how that works in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, etc. It does not work in the long term. In the South, many cities prefer the Council-Manager structure, as they have learned by looking at their Northern counterparts that hiring professional managers is better for the community.
In Kings Mountain, we had the wisdom to create a governance system that is Council-Manager. The elected Council, not including the mayor, votes on whom to hire as a Professional Manager to run the city. While our predecessors wisely chose this form of government, the City Council in the past two decades has exposed the weakness in this system, by not choosing a professional experienced manager to oversee the city’s business affairs and operations. Finally, after twenty years they selected a seasoned professional to manage the City of Kings Mountain when the previous manager retired.
A professional City Manager has outside experience to learn how to best handle employees, contracts and conduct the city’s business in a non-partisan manner. When hiring a City Manager, communities look for experience and professionalism combined with advanced education. We have that now in Kings Mountain, and we should strive to support him as he conducts business in a non-partisan way. At the same time, we need to ask our City Council why did it take so long to hire a professional? They are singularly responsible for the issues and liabilities of the past and need to be held accountable at election time.
The same applies to our mayor. He needs to support the City Manager as he performs the job he was hired to do. Not work against him, make unqualified decisions and attempt to negotiate agreements on the cities behalf. Recently the City Council voted to give the City Manager sole negotiating responsibility on behalf of the city. The Mayor and several Council members need to respect and adhere to this policy for the betterment of our community.