“The mayor’s job is not necessarily to sit in his office at City Hall,” incumbent mayor Walter Jakeway said at Sunday’s all-candidates meeting at the Sportsplex.
His response to the question from the floor, which also contained the phrase, “There’s not that much paperwork to do. You’re paid to socialize,” certainly raised some eyebrows around the gymnasium. The comment also raised the issue of whether it represented the controversial mayor’s attitude towards his position.
“It’s been alleged that in your leadership role at City Hall, you’ve spent than less than two hours per week there, and in the past four years there’s parts of the building you have yet to be into,” began the question from the floor addressed to the incumbent candidate for mayor. “What kind of time are you willing to commit to your voters to be hands on, and how will you use your leadership role to re-establish and maintain a healthy, functional, supportive elected team who will sustain us for the next four years?”
After leading with the statement about “sit(ting) in his office at City Hall,” the mayor went on to clarify, “I go to all sorts of functions around town,” he said, “I also go to meetings in Courtney,” and gave examples of various functions he attends in his capacity as Mayor.
“I’ve been to all areas of City Hall, so I don’t know what they’re talking about there,” he said.
“My job is not to be the boss,” he said. “The city manager is the boss of City Hall. He’s the one that interfaces with all the employees. If they’ve got grievances they talk to him. If I start doing that, it’s just going to cause confusion. I’m very aware of my job. I know what I’m supposed to do. I’m not going to screw up the city manager by going around and visiting at coffee time with all the employees. That’s not my function. That will screw everything up.
“I’m the chairman of the board of directors, I’m not the general manager.”
Both other candidates suggested that they would spend much of their work weeks at City Hall, with Andy Adams suggesting he would re-implement an old policy of former mayor and current council candidate Charlie Cornfield, to have “an open-door policy where there would be a certain amount of time each week where people could come in and talk to the mayor.” Steve Wood said, “I’m committing to a full-time commitment, as required, seven days a week,” in response to the question.
Jakeway disputed how his accessibility is being portrayed, saying he’s “available anytime anyone wants to talk,” and that the job description is set up to be only a 60 per cent position, which he says he fulfills.