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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 15, 2013 at 6:50 PM

What’s in a mayor?

Civic duty is grand

I appreciated Bruce Ramsey’s column discussing what a city mayor is and is not. [“Mike McGinn vs. Ed Murray: What a mayor is, and isn’t,” Opinion, Aug. 14.]

Ramsey did us all a service in exploring the mayor’s role. Insights from Councilmember Tim Burgess was a perfect addition.

Ramsey is absolutely right that municipal government is about things like providing for public safety, transportation facilities and clean drinking water. He rightly distinguishes these from campaign “trumpeting” on lofty issues that a city mayor cannot directly affect. But I offer a friendly amendment to the column’s conclusion.

In understanding municipal government, we do not have to choose between the practical and the grand. Instead, by enabling us to get our kids safely to school, keep our families healthy and live our lives every day, essential municipal services are not just boring, practical details. They directly advance the promises of our democracy — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Ramsey is right: A mayor shouldn’t need to hunt for obscure sources on which to grandstand.

On the contrary, a good mayor should be able lead and inspire around the city’s daily work. In a very real way, there is nothing more grand.

Max Jacobs, Seattle

Comments | More in Politics, Seattle | Topics: civic duty, mayor, municipal government

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