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GUEST COLUMN: Voters should decide Cedar Falls mayor's role

GUEST COLUMN: Voters should decide Cedar Falls mayor's role

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I have been a big fan of The Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier and particularly its editorial/opinion page entries for as long as I can remember. On very rare occasions an issue will crop up that I feel is so important it deserves comment. The continued questionable actions of Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green have prompted me to submit these thoughts. I know the mayor is new in the job, unfortunately, that’s no excuse for misleading or deceiving the City Council and the public.

Cedar Falls has achieved an enviable reputation under the leadership of a full-time mayor and actively involved City Council. Cedar Falls government cannot and should not be compared to other cities since no other city is structured the same or has produced the same results over the past decades. We all can take pride in the fact that we have maintained an active, involved (strong) mayor and City Council. Our current mayor promised the highest level of transparency if elected. I believe he has fallen short.

Just recently Mayor Green attempted to slip several critical provisions past the council in the council’s 2022 city goals document. One of those measures that had previously not been adopted by the council at work sessions was Green’s proposal to cut the mayor’s position from full-time to part-time. Thanks to a diligent council member the mayor’s effort was thwarted. For Green’s part he admitted he placed these items for consideration on his own and then quickly asked for a motion for council to table the item. For as long as part-time/full-time mayor question has been a topic in Cedar Falls, the council has consistently taken the stance it should be a decision of the voters, not the mayor alone.

Green also fails to understand or appreciate the long hours and work ethic of previous mayors. This work ethic in large part is responsible for the city’s enviable status. He would prefer to have staff responsible for running the city. Worse yet, he wants language adopted that would make it difficult to terminate the city’s administrator, directors and managers. His inability to see into the future and be visionary is probably the result of just being inexperienced or too naïve and nuanced.

Mayor Green has publicly stated he’s pushing for a part-time mayor because he believes a full-time mayor duplicates the role of the city administrator. He obviously knows very little about representative government or how to have an effective leadership structure of a $100 million organization. No worthwhile enterprise the size of Cedar Falls would operate without the CEO overseeing all of staff from top to bottom to some degree.

Yes, Mayor Green wants to hand over the keys to the city to an unelected staff. He forgets he’s new in the job and still green. There are no cries from the public to make this drastic change. Perhaps the best check and balance for local government is the opportunity to elect the individual mayor and council members who will guide the course of the community’s future — and be held accountable. Removing this element and cutting the mayor’s role and responsibilities to part-time, with part-pay, is a matter that should be left to the voters of Cedar Falls. We should not allow the current mayor to sellout 40 years of full-time effort, with amazing results, especially during a pandemic.

Jim Brown is the former mayor of Cedar Falls and remains active in the community of Cedar Falls and the Cedar Valley.

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