TV ad probably not best medium for strong-mayor pitch

Not that there’s anything in particular wrong with it. It’s just that the medium forces oversimplification.

It does hit the accountability issue, which is key. But helping people understand how a strong mayor is more accountable takes explanation.

Absurdly, opponents of reform have tried to claim that a city manager is more accountable. Their argument is that the manager can be fired any time, rather than having to wait until re-election time.

That is rendered absurd by experience. No one who has seven equal bosses can be said to have a boss at all. Anyone recall how long it took city council even to do an evaluation of Charles Austin? I’m sort of asking, because I don’t recall the exact length of time myself. But it was outrageously long, reflecting how difficult it is for a body of seven people to agree on what direction and feedback a manager should receive.

And anyone who thinks an elected mayor is accountable only at election time hasn’t paid attention to the way elected officials actually behave, which is to look over their shoulders constantly to make sure the voters are happy with the job they’re doing.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, I pass on the advert.

2 thoughts on “TV ad probably not best medium for strong-mayor pitch

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, and here’s the release that went with the video:

    New Strong Mayor ad hits airwaves

    COLUMBIA, SC – The Columbia Citizens for Better Government on Wednesday officially unveiled a new television ad featuring Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin encouraging residents to vote yes for a Strong Mayor on December 3.

    “Most of us realize city government just doesn’t work very well,” Benjamin says in the ad. “Too much bickering. Too little accountability. That’s why I hope you’ll vote yes to improve the system.”

    The group said the ad would hit airwaves across Columbia on Thursday and run through Election Day on Tuesday.

    [View the TV ad on YouTube]

    In the 30-second spot, Benjamin cites public safety and accountability as two reasons for urging city voters to support the Strong Mayor referendum this Tuesday.

    “Sheriff Leon Lott told us: Our police chief has too many bosses to fight crime effectively,” says Benjamin. “Most of all, a yes vote will make me and all future mayors accountable to you, and that’s a good thing.”

    The Columbia Citizens for Better Government are a bi-partisan, community effort led by former Democratic S.C. Governor Jim Hodges, former Republican S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster, former S.C. NAACP President James Felder, and author and community activist Ashlye Wilkerson.

    The group was formed in August 2013 after Columbia City Council repeated refused to allow city residents to pick their preferred method of government. In response, the citizen organization launched a citywide petition drive that successfully gathered more than 12,500 signatures and forced a vote on whether Columbia should switch to a Strong Mayor system.

    That vote will be held this Tuesday, December 3.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    Anyone who thinks Steve Benjamin cares enough what the ordinary voter thinks to change his actions, hasn’t dealt with him. He got re-elected for a lot of reasons, but none that amount to being rewarded for his actions.


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