Black on power of Langford’s mayor

April 6, 2021
Capital Daily
Article Source: Read the Original Article

Communication expert Dr. David Black spoke to Capital Daily reporter Aaron Guillen about Langford’s unique political landscape, and its effect on the city’s development.

Here is an excerpt:

If you define a city’s success by population growth, housing start-ups and having residents who make more than the provincial median income on average, then Langford’s got it, says Black. Yet, after nearly 30 years of incorporation, he says Langford is just arriving at an inflection point, politically speaking.

Black pointed out that Langford, like most Canadian cities, operates on what is called the ‘weak mayor system’, in which a mayor doesn’t have veto power or a lot of executive power. To get any initiatives completed, the mayor must look to council and get a majority on their side to accomplish any task. By contrast, in the United States, most municipal governments operate on the ‘strong mayor system’, where the mayor’s role sits outside of council. Mayors will have veto powers for budget decisions and can hire and fire like a CEO.

But Langford is an exception to the normal role of the so-called weak mayor. Young told Cascadia Report that he tries to be the cheerleader on council. Coun. Denise Blackwell, who chairs the planning, zoning, and affordable housing committee, pointed out that the mayor has never questioned their decisions. Due to the amount of red tape that has been cut—evident with their latest amendment to lengthen sidewalk permits up to three years instead of one for storefronts to expand their operations—they are able to operate with impressive efficiency. But some say that comes at the expense of the deliberation councils are supposed to undertake.

“This council has been historically deferential to Mayor Young. They work in unison. There is no room for lively debate or disagreement.”

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