On the campaign trail, Joe Lhota made a big deal of the fact that Bill de Blasio has never governed. But our mayor-elect’s not alone in that distinction; rookies rule some of the biggest burgs in the country. What advice do other first-term mayors have for ours? The Observer checked in with some newbie chief executives.
“The politics of campaigns can be quite different from governing. A position on any given issue has to be definitive when out on the campaign trail; there’s no room for maybe and no opportunity for compromise. As you head to the mayor’s office, go with an open mind, because not every issue is black or white—most tend to be a shade of gray.” —Annise Parker, mayor of Houston
“As a mayor, there is no Democratic way or Republican way to pick up the trash or perform any of the thousands of other functions mayors are charged with overseeing every day. The only choice you have is to act, because failure means real and immediate consequences for your city. There is no time for ideology to trump passing a budget when thousands of citizens rely on city-funded clinics or hospitals to receive care. You simply must roll up your sleeves and get the job done.” —Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, mayor of Baltimore
“Mayors have to deal with a broad and often complex range of issues. One minute, you’re meeting with a Fortune 500 CEO about investing in your community; the next minute, you’re meeting with constituents complaining about potholes on their street. A successful mayor needs to balance both—the major concerns of a global city, while focusing on individual constituents, always providing the best possible service to all. My advice would be to keep your eye on the big picture, while never ignoring the details.” —Carlos Gimenez, mayor of Miami-Dade County
“Prioritize city services that affect the quality of life of New Yorkers. Make City Hall accessible, and bring government closer to the people you serve. And I’ll pass along the best piece of advice I received as a new mayor: Spend your first 100 days building a great team. No one will remember what you did in those first 100 days, but the team you build will make a difference in your city that people will remember for years to come. Also, don’t forget to keep things real—admit mistakes, keep an open mind, learn from each day and let people get to know you as a person, not just as their mayor. And don’t give up your personal Twitter account.” —Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles
“Mayor is the best job in politics. Why? Because it is fun, you have regular contact with the people you serve, and the decisions you make have an impact on their daily lives. You are the face of your city at the local, national and international levels. Restraint is the most underrated virtue in politics. Use it wisely.” —Marilyn Strickland, mayor of Tacoma, Wash.
“I was born and raised in Manhattan, so the city holds a special place in my heart. New York is the finest melting pot of cultures and people, and Las Vegas is equally so. My advice is to be inclusive, get out in the community and listen to what constituents have to say. Never forget that you are the mayor of all of the city’s residents. —Carolyn Goodman, mayor of Las Vegas