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Letter to the Editor: Vote NO on Prop 400

Dear Editor:  I read with great interest and concern, Publisher Robert B. Larson’s editorial, entitled, “Yes vote on Prop. 400 would lead to more consensus”.   Mr. Larson stated in that editorial: “When are we as residents of the most beautiful place in the world, going to understand that everyone has a right to their opinions and deserves to be heard?”.  I’d like to offer my perspective, as both sides of this issue deserve to be heard by your readers.

I wonder where the evidence exists that when leadership is selected by the majority of a legislative body that it would “lead to more consensus”, would “allow the mayor to be an advocate for all the various opinions of the council members”, and even more incredible “would eliminate the conflicts that have come up between the mayor and various council members when they have differing viewpoints?” 

Wow, that’s pretty “dreamy”. I guess the evidence starts in Washington D.C. where the majority caucus selects their leadership.  Do the statements of “kumbaya” above apply to Speaker Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid?  How does selection by a majority minimize controversy?  Why can nothing intelligent be done, nor consensus reached in the Arizona or California legislatures? They select their own – conflicts eliminated?

I seem to remember lots of council conflicts when the last four mayors, Everett, MacFarlane, Ellis and Colquitt were selected, not elected mayors. The Red Rock News covered these conflicts thoroughly. Do we all have collective amnesia?

Rather than wishing conflict away, I suggest that conflict always exists, just as it does in Washington or Phoenix, based upon very different basic personal philosophical views of how government should work and what it should support. Added to that are the various personalities of the people we select to represent us. If we elect people whose personalities are combative and angry, we are going to get conflict on city council. If we elect city councilors who we know are on completely different sides of the main campaign issues, we are going to get conflict on council. The mayor, however selected, cannot paper over, stonewall, ignore or collaborate with people who have no intention of collaborating. That is just as true of the President as it is of the mayor.

I do agree with Mr. Larson that our sense of community and our “Sedona Vision Statements” are in desperate need of enhancement. Like him, I’d like to see leadership, and those being led each using the highest forms of respect for one another.  But these are character and personality traits not related whatsoever to their selection process.

Finally, one does not need a “strong-mayor” city government to directly elect your mayor.  Of the 89 cities and towns in the entire state of Arizona, 66 cities ELECT their mayor.  82 of them are Council/Manager governments like Sedona.  Of the 7 that are not, 6 are smaller than 3000 population (only Winslow, Pop 9500 has an Administrator, not a Manager).

Twenty two of the cities who do not elect their mayor have populations under 6,000, about half of our size.  Very small communities start out selecting mayor by council, but when they hit 6,ooo people, all but one have converted and none has ever gone backwards.

Our mayor is more than a council member.  He or She is the ambassador for our community who represents us throughout the Verde Valley and to the various state agencies and service organizations.  All council members have strong attributes, but it should be the People’s choice on who is our ambassador.

Proposition 400 if passed WILL REPEAL YOUR RIGHT to elect the mayor. Please Vote NO on Proposition 400.

Guest Perspective By Mike Schroeder

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