Assembly member proposes strong mayor government

Movement is afoot to strengthen the role of the borough’s mayor and replace the current form of having a manager run day-to-day borough business.Assembly member Mark Ewing has introduced a motion to have a strong mayor in place, who would have the power to make daily decisions and be paid for to manage the borough’s affairs. Currently the mayoral role is limited to being a figurehead and a tie-breaker in assembly votes.

Ewing said his motion comes at the request of constituents. They want a strong mayor and direct control over who runs the borough’s operations. Ewing argues that a manager only has to make four assembly members happy to keep his job, but a strong mayor would be held accountable for his or her actions by majority of Mat-Su residents.

Ewing’s motion is a response to borough manager John Duffy’s resignation after being ten years on the job.

Ewing said in an interview with KTNA that now would be the time to make the change before a new manager is hired. A nationwide search for a new borough manager is underway. The position is advertised to pay between $120,000  to $200,000 per year.

Arguments against the strong mayor form are that professional continuity could be sacrificed as new mayors could bring in new staff every three years.

Ewing’s motion is going to be discussed at the assembly’s next meeting on June 1.

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