RACINE — With a special mayoral election likely around the corner, one alderman is suggesting making mayor into a part-time position and cutting the salary along with it.
Alderman Henry Perez of the 12th District said: “I don’t think we need a full-time mayor” and he feels that now is a good time to make that change following Mayor John Dickert’s spring announcement that he plans to resign sometime this summer to take a new job as director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, a water advocacy group.
Perez has filed a request with the city asking for discussion about transitioning to a part-time mayoral position at an upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting.
The item was listed on the City Council agenda that came out on Friday. But it would be up to City Council President Dennis Wiser to schedule the meeting for discussion on the topic, Perez said. Wiser could not be immediately reached for comment Friday on the topic.
Perez said the city has an experienced city manager: City Administrator James Palenick.
Palenick started as city administrator in the end of April, taking the spot of retiring city administrator Tom Friedel.
“This is one of those positions, when you have a city administrator, is not necessary,” Perez said about the full-time mayor position.
“Legally, there is not a lot that the mayor does,” Perez said. “I see the council taking a bigger role, now that we have someone we paid a lot of money to become our city manager … It makes sense to reduce the role (of mayor).”
The vision should be coming from the council, Perez said.
Along with reducing the position of mayor to part-time, the salary should also be reduced, Perez said.
“This is a good opportunity for us to reduce and save some money,” Perez said.
He said when he was a police officer in Pinecrest, Fla., outside of Miami and they had a city manager and part-time mayor. “That worked great,” for that suburb, he said, which has a population of about 20,000. The mayor was basically a public relations person, which is a system Perez thinks worked well.
Alderman John Tate II, who was elected in April, said Friday the idea of a part-time mayor never crossed his mind.
“It seems like the executive of the city would demand full-time attention,” Tate said.
But he said he would be interested in hearing more from Perez about what a part-time mayor position would mean for the city and what it would look like.