Like a lot of folks who care what happens in the City of Salem, I read with interest the series of paid advertisements that Dr. J.J. Tune placed in The Salem News during the weeks prior to the April 8 municipal election.
I agreed with a lot of the points that the mayoral candidate brought up. There were a few I didn’t agree with, but that’s politics. Well, Dr. J.J. Tune is now Mayor J.J. Tune, and my guess is he is going to attempt to carry through with his campaign promises, some of which will likely be a little – maybe a lot – controversial.
First, let’s rehash some history. Outgoing Mayor Gary Brown once held the title of mayor and director of public works. Some people thought that was too much power for one person, so aldermen agreed to remove the title, pay and power of public works director. Brown’s opponents relished in the fact that his power was diminished.
Let’s assume that many of Brown’s opponents who were glad to see him stripped of those duties were supporters of Tune during this election. That’s a pretty safe assumption.
My point is, Mr. Tune is now mayor with the same stripped-down power as Mr. Brown, so don’t expect a flurry of changes unless aldermen approve of those changes. When it comes to power, the aldermen have it.
Simply put, the mayor of a fourth-class city presides over the four-person board of aldermen, but only votes when there is a tie (Revised Statutes of Missouri 79.120). His power is limited, but there is power.
A mayor can veto ordinances, but they can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the aldermen (in our case, three of the four). He will sign most of the paperwork that has been ordered by aldermen, communicate with aldermen when he recommends measures he thinks are in the best interest of the city and appoints officers of the city except city clerk, which is appointed by aldermen (79.320).
In layman’s terms, the aldermen carry the big stick.
The University of Missouri Extension has a detailed handbook for local politicians. According to that handbook, “Perhaps the most important single duty of the mayor is presiding at meetings of the board of aldermen, which requires a lot of advance preparation.”
Another word for presiding is leading, and that’s certainly what I hope J.J. Tune does as our next mayor. We’ve had enough strong-arming and head-butting, talking out of school, backstabbing and talking back. More than once in his pre-election advertising Tune referred to God. Let’s hope Tune remembers the Golden Rule and practices what he has been preaching.
I have no reason to think that Tune will not be a good leader for the city of Salem. As I’ve worked with him as a county commissioner and a few volunteer committees, he has been professional, honest and above all, forthright. When it comes to city government, we need to see and hear more than what we’ve been seeing and hearing.
Tune’s role will be different this go-around in politics, as the mayor’s responsibility is more of a leadership role than a having-it-done-my-way role.
I have no doubt that Tune will do his best to fulfill his campaign promises, and the best way to do that is to present his case to aldermen and earn the votes that will get those promises done.