On October 22, people all across Ontario will be heading to the polls and casting votes for their preferred candidates for municipal councils and school board trustees. Voters elect heads of municipal councils directly on a ballot (mayors in larger cities and towns, reeves in smaller centres), while school board trustees will usually elect one of their members to serve as the chairperson of the board. In London, seeing as the incumbent is not running for re-election, someone new will take Matt Brown’s spot, and the list of choices is long: fourteen candidates are in the running, representing a wide array of positions and outlooks from across the political spectrum…
It’s a much-coveted, hard-won seat, but many voters might still ask themselves: What does the mayor actually do?
The Mayor is the Face of the City
One of the most important roles the mayor has to take on is to be visible and accessible. The mayor represents the city at official events and generally acts as a spokesperson for the city with the media, interest groups, and other levels of government.
What events they attend often reflect how they want the city to operate, and the values they represent in office. Acting as the city’s representative at gatherings might be one of the more fun parts of their role as a leader, but it can offer a glimpse into how they’re running the city.
The Mayor is the Head of Council
But enough about the parties. The mayoralty is not a ceremonial office; mayors are the driver of a council, and as head of the city, the mayor is the highest level of local political leadership. They act as the chief executive officer of the municipal council, chairing meetings and making sure elected officials accomplish what they set out to do.
As head of the city and voted into office by voters, the mayor also has to make sure that all functions and operations are transparent, and consistent with the rules in the Municipal Act. The council is there to make the policy decisions for the municipality and the mayor, as a leader, makes sure that the decisions are made in as open a manner as possible.
The mayor also provides recommendations and information to the council, as chair of council meetings to guide council as it deliberates and votes. The mayor can also appoint panels and committees to compile reports and make recommendations to committees and council as a whole; a good example of this Advisory Panel on Poverty.
When casting a vote for mayor on October 22nd, you might want to take both personality and platform into account when marking your ballot. While he or she has a single vote on council, the mayor has a significant role in steering council votes and committees and influences the perception of the city as a whole through the role of spokesperson-in-chief. Candidates aren’t affiliated with political parties, which can be confusing when compared to provincial and federal elections.
That’s why Electipedia.ca lets you compare options side by side so you know where candidates stand on the issues that are important to you. Your vote for mayor should reflect your values and how you see the city’s future. #voteinformed