Did you know Coronado is a council-manager form of government, not a strong-mayor form of government?
What does that mean, you ask?
It means that the citizens of Coronado elect a four-person council and a mayor, all at-large. It is this political body that then hires a city manager to organize, run and manage the day-to-day affairs of the city bureaucracy.
Blair King, Coronado’s city manager, is effectively our CEO. The city council members are his board of directors. Mayor Tanaka is the chairman. This board, or council, sets the vision for the city.
Specifically, this means that the City Council proposes, develops and mandates policies, ordinances and long-range plans for Coronado’s government. It is the city manager’s role to implement all of this.
Okay, so most likely you already know all this.
Here’s a better question: What sets the mayor apart from the council?
In a council-manager form of government this position is not that powerful. Sorry Mayor Tanaka, sorry Councilwoman Denny.
The mayor’s role in Coronado for all intents and purposes is a ceremonial one. He doesn’t set the meeting agenda, he doesn’t administer the parks and recreation department. The city manager does.
He does run the meetings, however. He can control the tempo and decorum of council meetings. And, that’s important. The mayor, symbolically, is our leader. When the mayor is cutting ribbons at store openings, you want to be proud that person is standing there.
But, in the end, the Mayor has one vote, just like the council members.
With these facts in mind, why does council member Denny want to unseat Mayor Tanaka?
Did he toss the city into a pool of red ink? Nope.
And, even if he did, Denny’s ability to change the city’s path is only as strong as her ability to persuade the rest of the council to come along with her program.
Whatever one's gripes are with Mayor Tanaka, it takes a majority of council members to make a decision, to direct the city manager to implement a new policy.
Tanaka is not a strong mayor because Coronado does not have that form of government, but he is a level-headed one. He sets a smooth tone that allows his council colleagues to deliberate fairly and substantively.
Over the last few years, Tanaka and most of the council members have worked together to set the course for the next phase of our city. He is part of a consensus, a coalition of council members who are working as a team to move Coronado ahead.
If one doesn’t like where the council is taking the city, work to throw the whole lot out or make change from within, but switching one’s seat from a council member to a mayor is ineffective and insincere.
Strong leadership and vision can be rooted in a council seat.
Council member Denny can do this. She could build coalitions with her council colleagues to achieve the planks on her political platform. She has a solid following of concerned citizens who want to see her goals implemented.
However, without striking working relationships with her council colleagues these objectives will never see the light of day. She is just one vote of five.
Do you see my point? She isn’t leading. She is an outlier.
To be mayor, you must take the reins. You must compromise when necessary. You must be able to work with your fellow elected leaders.
The mayor’s seat in Coronado is a symbol. It is a symbol of leadership.
Mayor Tanaka spent years as a council member earning our respect and that of his colleagues before he was elected mayor.
Let’s illustrate our support for him by voting him in to another four years as our mayor. It would be a strong and symbolic vote.