The Mayor's Leadership Role
The mayor occupies the highest elective office in the municipal government, and as the political head of the Village is expected to provide the leadership necessary to keep it moving in the proper direction. Effective mayors see themselves not only as leaders staking out policy positions but also as facilitators of effective teamwork. As a mayor, you have a special set of long-term responsibilities, not shared by many others. You are supposed to be a community leader as well as a political leader. Yet most of the trials and tribulations you will face during your term of office will deal with Village housekeeping kinds of activities. These day-to-day activities seem to be of most immediate concern to most citizens, and sometimes solving the little problems are the most fun. But you need to find time to deal with the important policy issues and some of the long-term future concerns. Try to make your Village a better place to live tomorrow, not just today. If you can leave something of long-term consequence to your community, you will at least have the satisfaction of a job well done, and that is the principal reward of public service.
The role of the Village council in any size of Village is becoming more demanding and complex. In order to get anything accomplished, elected officials must work together to define and agree upon mutual goals. This is one of the most challenging aspects of being a mayor and working with a Village council. Goal setting provides a framework for Village action. By setting short term and longer term goals, and then deciding which are most important, you and the council can define what your Village government will try to achieve. Staff then has clear guidelines regarding what you and the council wants to accomplish, and you have a way of evaluating your programs and services. Establishing goals will help you keep on track and not get distracted by the brush fires.
The mayor's participation in local ceremonial events is a never-ending responsibility. The mayor is expected on a daily basis to cut ribbons at ceremonies opening new businesses, break ground for construction of new Village facilities, and regularly appear at fairs, parades, and other community celebrations. The mayor also issues proclamations for a variety of purposes. As featured speaker before professional clubs, school assemblies and neighborhood groups, the mayor can expect to be interviewed, photographed and otherwise placed on extensive public display by the media.
Your Village does not operate in a vacuum. Villages and Cities must work within a complex intergovernmental system. Keep in contact with and cooperate with your federal, state, county and school officials. Get to know the officials of neighboring and similar size Villages and cities.
Mayors take the lead in representing their local government to those from outside the community who are interested in joint ventures-including other local governments, regional organizations, and federal and state government representatives. In this area, mayors promote a favorable image of their local government and pursue resources that will benefit the community.
Mayors inform the public, the media, and staff about issues affecting the community. This role is critical in building public support and facilitating effective decision making by the council.
Interacting with Citizens
The most important trait a new official can cultivate is the simple ability to listen. You will quickly find that when irate citizens call on you to complain, they do not come to listen, they come to talk. So let them. Make an effort to keep your constituents informed, and encourage citizen participation. Expect and respect citizen complaints. Make sure your Village has a way to effectively deal with them. Sitting in your position of new responsibility does not allow you to forget the people who elected you to office. They expect you to keep them informed and to give them an opportunity to express themselves. If you do this, your chances for success as a public official will be high indeed.
Interacting with Media
The media is your best contact with the public-it informs the community about what is happening and why. A good working relationship is mutually beneficial to both you and the media. Through the media, you have the opportunity to comment publicly on local issues and inform citizens of Village activities. If you work hard to cultivate that relationship, you can ensure that the media have all the facts and provide accurate, fair coverage of Village issues.
Council Member Responsibilities:
Whether you are a resident, property owner/occupier or business operator becoming a Council member can be the most direct and rewarding way that you can contribute to your local community. Today’s Council is forward thinking, professional and focused on providing high levels of customer service across its entire community. The range of services it provides is diverse and spans a broad range of areas including: the environment; planning and development; infrastructure, information management, recycling & waste management; health; aged care; youth; and recreation to name just a few!
As an Elected Member you will be part of a team that has the opportunity to shape the strategic directions and policies for many of these areas, and for the Council as a whole.
Being an Elected Member of Council is an exciting, challenging and rewarding role, but it is one that requires time, commitment, the capability to see the "bigger picture" and importantly an ability to represent the local community.
Role of Councilors
As an elected member you will be required to represent the interests of residents, to provide community leadership and guidance, and to facilitate communication between the community and the council.
It is important that you; are aware of the needs and wishes of the community as a whole,
Keeping in Touch with Electors
You may achieve this in a variety of ways such as attending meetings of local organizations:
As a councilor you are required to attend council meetings to ensure that electors are adequately represented. Meetings are usually held monthly and if you are absent from three consecutive meetings, over at least a 3 month period, without Council's permission, your office may be declared vacant.
Some points to remember regarding council meetings:
Co-coordinating Community Activities: Within the community there are often many individuals or groups with the resources to carry out community projects, but who need assistance or support. You may be approached to assist such people as you will have access to information about groups, activities and available resources in the area.
Expenses: In undertaking the duties of an elected member you are also entitled to apply for reimbursement for prescribed travel.