Political Note #205  Mayors on the March

One of the Presidential candidates has been criticized for how she bosses. Look at the presidential candidates. Can you tell what kind of bosses they have been?

Consider a mix of accomplishments and the implications of those accomplishments for how they worked as boss. For a few candidates, the most visible place where they bossed people was as a city mayor.

CORY BOOKER.   He was mayor of Newark, NJ fro 2006 to 2013. He became mayor when he was 37. Now he is a Senator from New Jersey. What he was like as a boss in Newark?  Newark is not a huge city. With 285,000 people it is the 70th largest city in the country.

As Booker’s term was ending, Governing magazine quoted an observer saying of Booker’s impact: “Newark was everybody’s favorite casework of a failed city. Now people have become interested in Newark as a recovering city.” Booker used his celebrity to sell the city and to bring in philanthropic resources. He fixed the budget.

He was also unusual. Governing begins its story:  “Did you hear about the time Cory Booker chased down an armed robber in front of city hall? How about when he ran into a burning building to save a woman’s life? Or when he shoveled snow from residents’ driveways after a blizzard? All true. All prettyunusual for a mayor.

PETE BUTTIGIEG. He has been mayor of South Bend Indiana since 2012 when he was 29 years old. South Bend is smaller than Newark – around 101,000, the 301st largest city in the country.

He focused on redeveloping abandoned property in his first term, targeted developing and beautifying downtown in his second. In his first year, he demoted the police chief (the city’s first black police chief) and fired the police communication director. He was listening to cops’ communications without their knowledge. With Mike Bloomberg of New York City, he was recognized as Mayor of the year for 2013.

Some constituents complained that Buttigieg was too quick to tear down properties. He adjusted to the criticisms and slowed things down. The Indy Star summarizes “unemployment is down and the city’s population is slowly rising after decades of decline.” It also comments on growth of new neighborhoods in the city.

No shoveling snow or chasing robbers. He thinks big. He is now urging the South Shore Rail Line be extended to South Bend, something he won’t be around to oversee. He had announced that he will not run for a third term. His second term ends at the end of this year.

JULIAN CASTRO. He was mayor of a big city from 2009 to 2014 beginning at age 36. San Antonio, with 1.5 million people, is seventh largest in the country.

As mayor, he created a community visioning process to establish priorities. Drawing from those priorities, he focused on education – creating a system for advising high school students about college and with passage of a sales tax, he was able to fund prekindergarten.

In 2014 he became Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, serving to the end of President Obama’s term.   He was a lot of people’s boss. There were more than 10,000 employees. He had a budget of around $30 Billion. He saw his tenure as a success – stabilizing the housing market, creating greater resilience for communities affected by natural disasters, and strengthening fair housing.

His tenure as mayor and as Secretary was almost entirely controversy free. The closest to a controversy was a Hatch Act violation as HUD Secretary. He commented on the 2016 presidential campaign in a news conference intended for regular business. That warranted a slap on the wrist.

BERNIE SANDERS. You don’t think of him as a mayor? He has been a Senator from Vermont since 2007 and was a Member of Congress before that. Like Cory Booker, he was a mayor first. He was Mayor of Burlington, Vermont’s largest City. He ran as an independent against a Democratic incumbent who had no Republican opposition. Thirty-nine year old Sanders won by 10 votes.

Burlington is a small city – 42,000 people. He ran against excessive development in the city. He had to manage as a minority mayor; his supporters never had more than six of thirteen members of the City Council. He got what he wanted done. Without scandals – unless bringing Noam Chomsky to speak at City Hall counts as a scandal.

Opposed to large, private developments, he revitalized the downtown. He redeveloped the waterfront (Lake Champlain) with a focus on mixed use of housing, parks, and private space rather than the expensive condominiums and hotels that had been proposed. He balanced the city budget and brought in a minor league baseball team – only coincidentally named the Vermont Reds (a Cincinnati farm team).

These are not comprehensive candidate reviews. I will do at least two more of these brief comments inspired by the question about how candidates boss. Find more information about the candidates. Choose the ones you like the best. Support one or two of them. Don’t decide on electability. Who knows what will make an electable candidate in 2020?. Prepare for the possibility you will have to spend money to support someone else if your favorite(s) falter.

Meanwhile support Congressional candidates, too.

People who need our help now for 2020.  Read more about them in the website archive.

The most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the US Senate is Doug Jones of Alabama. Political Note #189

Vulnerable Democratic Members of Congress include those who won the closest races. Consider those below:Two Members of Congress won by less than 1,000 votes in 2018:

  • TJ Cox CA 21                    Political Note #192
  • Ben McAdams UT 04     Political Note #190

Eight additional Members of Congress won by less than 5,000 votes in 2018

  • Anthony Brindisi NY 22                 Political Note #200
  • Joe Cunningham SC 01                  Political Note #199
  • Jared Golden ME 02                       Political Note #196
  • Kendra Horn OK 05                        Political Note #193
  • Andy Kim NJ 03                               Political Note #194
  • Lucy McBath GA 06                         Political Note #191
  • Debbie Mucarsel-Powell FL 26     Political Note #201
  • Xochitl Torres Small NM 03          Political Note #195

Three more won be a margin of more than 5,000 but less than 10,000.

  • Cynthia Axne IA 03          Political Note #204
  • Cil Cisneros CA 39            Political Note #203
  • Elaine Luria VA 02           Political Note #202