The city council recently approved Charter Ordinance 2202 on a 6-1 vote, which authorized Mayor Roger Miller more oversight of the city administrator but where the new ordinance still left the day-to-day management within the city administrator’s daily scope of work. This considerable effort was undertaken by a subcommittee of the council, appointed by the mayor. You will recall that on many occasions the mayor has complained that he didn’t understand his job or his authority and that the current laws are unclear to him. Ordinance 2202 is the response.
Now, Mayor Miller wants Ordinance 2202 put to a vote and wants Sheridan citizens to sign a petition to do so. If that is successful, and the public votes to revoke Ordinance 2202, the effect will be that the current law stays as is. The mayor wants you to believe that a vote on 2202 is a vote to abolishing the city administrator ordinance. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A special election cost could well top $50,000 — a true waste of time and money. Tens of thousands of dollars have been wasted in legal fees on this subject. Again — a waste of time and money. All of this is a diversion while Mayor Miller hinders getting the truly important work of the community done — affordable housing, repairing our streets, maintaining our quality of life, preserving Main Street, and, most of all, encouraging the creation of good paying jobs.
In the last council election there were new council members elected who were skeptical of the city administrator ordinance. After study, and coming to know Mayor Miller, two of the three now support the city administrator position. Only the mayor and perhaps one other council member believe the city administrator position should be abolished.
Mayor Miller’s background is this: he was a policeman who took early retirement. He then owned a small fly-fishing store. Then he was elected mayor. He believes that he — and he alone — without any assistance from a trained professional, should directly supervise hundreds of employees, millions of dollars in streets, sewers, water systems and construction projects as well as oversee our fire and police safety. This makes no sense.
The majority of the council, and most Sheridan citizens, believe that it takes a smart person to recognize their limitations and work with all the best help they can get to do the job. Former mayors Herbst, Wilson, Kinskey and Heath all support keeping the city administrator law on the books. They, and the city council, believe the mayor should not be involved in a day-to-day operations so that he can focus more on higher order issues such as policy, leadership and vision for the community. The city administrator position and Ordinance 2202 does not diminish the value or the necessity of having a mayor. It simply opens up time so that a mayor can focus on larger scale community vision issues.
If much of this seems like nonsense, that’s because it is. We, as council members, have tried repeatedly to get the mayor focused on the issues that count — but to no avail. He is obsessed with power and getting rid of professional management so that he — and he alone — directly supervises the entire city.
Our mayor needs to pivot to the larger pressing items of water and sewer improvements, safety, livability of the community and keeping low taxes. There must be a sustained focus on attainable housing policies so that parents have warm homes for their kids to sleep in and employers have employees with suitable workforce housing and adequate job training. The mayor needs to focus on how to better assist senior citizens that can’t pay their Medicare supplement policies because of their increasing living costs. These items require leadership and knowledge. These items are the mayor’s job, and that is the leadership role that a mayor should focus on.
As a council person and as a fellow community member, I ask Mayor Miller to focus on the matters that move our community forward. He has wasted your time and money on this city administration issue. Roger — be a selfless leader who focuses on community first vs. self first. Move toward the priorities of our citizens and community.
Patrick Henderson is a councilor on Sheridan City Council.