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What makes a great Mayor?
By J.B. Blocker

Before I begin, I want to set a few qualifications for my opinions
  I have no racial or religious bias. As a naturalized citizen, I have the highest hopes for the children of immigrants to achieve the American dream. We are, by now, all decedents of immigrants even if it goes back multiple generations. I do have a problem using ethnicity or religion as a campaign platform for elected officials in a general election. Even in a District, City, or State that is predominantly one origin or faith, I believe that a higher power can prevail when good people elect good people.
  I am personal friends with many current and former mayors. My first part-time job was as a teenager working for the mayor of my hometown of Sunray, Texas at the Sunray Lumber Yard. That was 40 years ago and I still call and check on his wife Judge Billie Faye Schumacher, the former J.P. and current Teen Court Judge in Moore County. This comfort level and respect for the office prevails to this day. In the past 20 years in the DFW area I count over a dozen mayors as friends outside of their office position.
  Since the campaigns for Richardson’s mayor began, I have bided my time on voicing my opinion. I have spoken with each candidate, followed their web sites and Face Books, and used my friends and contacts as sounding boards.
In a few ways, both candidates have some similar qualifications. They have both served on the city council, are respected and even loved by many, and have worked hard to connect to the community.

One of the statements in the article was at best misleading and I believe it was intended to mitigate the perceived responsibilities of an elected mayor. It may be that the author just didn’t know the extent of mayoral responsibilities.
I sent this e-mail to several of my mayoral friends. In respect for the political integrity of those still holding office, I will not connect the mayor with their response.

I have a question for you concerning this statement. I cut and and pasted it for accuracy from the link.
The position of mayor in Richardson is largely ceremonial—the only powers the mayor has that other City Council members don’t involve running meetings and cutting ribbons— D Magazine

As you know, the city of Richardson has had a city council selected mayor since its charter and is voting to elect their mayor for the first time.

That statement is in the recent D Mag. article. Since I have had the opportunity to develop relationships with each of you outside of city business, I have gotten to know on a first hand basis that this is a serious down play of a mayor’s involvement and the relationship with their cities. 
Please do me the favor of offering some commentary by expanding, or clarifying the special relationship a mayor has with its residents and community.  I thought you would be offended or at least amused by such a shallow and mitigating statement. It was designed to soften an elected mayors potential presence in representing Richardson, however, we all know what a public image the mayor can reflect for their constituents.

In my dealings with each of you, I have not seen ego come in to play. You represent your cities in exceptional ways that far exceed the D Mag statement.

Please respond. Thank you in advance.
JB --- that statement is incorrect in a major way. The Mayor position in Texas has many state laws that also govern their power.  I have not seen Richardson's charter, but I would be surprised if the Mayor does not sign off on ordinances, and is the head of the government for many state and federal issues, such as grant requests that must be signed by him or her.

Also, another really major area that the statement misses is emergency powers. Generally, in Texas and in a home rule city, the Mayor has the same exact powers over the city as the governor has over the state of Texas during a state of emergency. In fact, the Mayor can declare that State Emergency and the city council can only review it after 10 days.  The Emergency Management plan of the city as well as State Law governs these powers.

JB---I would appreciate it if you not use my name.  I know Amir and Laura, and I consider them to both be my friends. 
I think you are right---in many ways, the Mayor is the face of the city---to both the citizens, and to the outside world.  How that person is perceived can have an impact on numerous things, not the least of which are regional influence, economic development, etc.  Also, citizens want to be proud of their city, so that means they want to be proud of their Mayor.  A loose cannon for a Mayor can be a liability for the city. 
I have observed that many people think that cities are somewhat on automatic pilot---things just tend to move forward by their own inertia.  I would agree with that to a certain extent, if you have a solid City Manager and city staff.  But we can find examples in this region where one or two council members or school board trustees, etc. can really change the dynamics of a smoothly running system.  So, it is important to elect good people who are running for the right reasons and who are completely focused on what is best for their city, school district, etc.
Hope that is of some value.

JB---Without expressing a preference for the Mayor of Richardson race, I would state the following in response to the comment that you quote from D Magazine.   While I do not know how the role of Mayor of Richardson differs from my city’s role, I can assure you that as Mayor of …the role is much more than ribbon cuttings and running the council meetings.  Part of my responsibility includes representing the City’s interest periodically in Austin and Washington D.C. on issues related to infrastructure funding, and legislation that impacts our local authority. 
  I also represent the Council at various times on economic development matters when an elected official is necessary during negotiations, meetings with transportation officials related to public transportation issues, appearances at County Commissioner Court meetings on behalf of the City, In addition we have a responsibility to respond to citizen concerns on a variety of issues.  
  A major part of the role of Mayor is ambassadorship for the city and community especially as it relates to representing the city to those outside the community.  While this may be perceived as ceremonial it is this role as an ambassador that has assisted in the city achieving national recognition and ultimately bringing companies to North Texas and our community from other states and countries and a role that I take very seriously.
Thanks for asking.

As you can see, the role of a mayor is expansive. It is not just one vote on the council. It is an ambassador’s responsibility. It is a position that is best served by engendering cooperation and support from not only the City Council, but also from all the other departments in city government. At best, it is a position of not only leadership, but also goodwill, and a true connection with the community at large.

First of all, Laura was selected by her peers to be Mayor Pro Tem as a member of the City Council. This reflects the confidence in her by her fellow Council.

Secondly, she has received the endorsement of every sitting City Council member other than her opponent to be the elected mayor. If you have to choose a leader between the two current Council candidates, wouldn’t you elect the one who has the open support of the other member over the one who has none? No matter how qualified the other might be, if fellow Council do not support the other candidate to lead them, what is that saying?

To top it off, Laura has been a resident of Richardson since Jr. High, attended J.J. Pearce, and has raised her three sons in the Richardson school system.
  Laura is a real All-American, Girl Next Door, Texas Lady. She began attending a summer working cattle ranch at age 12 and still occasionally sports her Stetson. In high school she participated in Drill Team and remains highly competitive. 
The Texas A&M Grad plays tennis to stay fit on a team that was the National Champion in their division.
  She bakes cookie every Monday for her husband of 24 years and their three sons and was fiscally responsible enough to refuse to marry while she was carrying college debt. 
  All the while, she is a working mother supporting her three very active and highly competitive sons in their school activities. By the way, they are champion swimmers in the Richardson school system! She and her husband Mike share an enviable and supportive relationship that is open and visible.  

Her co-worker of five years, Karen Ezell made these comments. “Laura is motivating to work for. She offers great support without micro managing. Working for her is a pleasure and joy. She is cool-headed and everything runs smoothly when she is involved.”

  With more than 15 years of direct involvement in Richardson as a dedicated leader, Laura has a proven track record of collaboration, relationship and team building, innovation, problem solving, and working hard for the long term improvement of our community. 
  She’s a tough fiscal conservative and a businesswoman who’s been nominated for the Altrusa Outstanding Women in Leadership award for small business success. Her long time activities with the Richardson Chamber of Commerce initiatives include Leadership Richardson. For her efforts as a leader in our community, Laura was awarded the Leadership Richardson Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2010.
  On the City Council, she serves as the chairman of the city’s Audit Committee where she works hard to maintain Richardson’s AAA Bond Rating. While a lot of cities lost their strong rating, Richardson has stayed on top. Laura opposes tax increases. She’s tough on crime. And she treats every tax dollar like a sacred trust.
  After a lifetime of volunteering, while at the same time carrying on a full-time job and raising a family with her husband, Laura was elected to serve on the City Council. Laura is well known for her passion for innovation and entrepreneurship and her efforts to recruit new businesses and high paying jobs to our community. She recognizes that the key to protecting our local economy lies in our ability to start new businesses, support local employers, and to help them grow.
My conclusion is that it really doesn’t matter who her opponent is. Richardson, Texas is a metropolitan city that would be hard pressed to find a better and more qualified mayor to represent their community.
Go to her web site to find out more about Mrs. Laura GibbsMaczka.
Paid Political Advertising:
Independent report and analysis for the Laura Maczka for Mayor Campaign, 301 Overcreek Dr. Richardson, Tx.


- J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Collin County in North Texas. Advertise with J.B. by calling 469-334-9962.

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