What is a strong vs. weak mayor? What do we have right now?

Until 1994 Poughkeepsie had a Council-Administrator form of government where the Mayor, while elected from all city voters, held the same power as each of the eight member of the Common Council, each elected by voters from his/her wards. This system was widely referred to as a "weak mayor" system. In 1994, the city enacted changes recommended at the time by an earlier charter review commission, that the city adopt Mayor-Administrator form of government. Their goal was to create a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances.

Although many refer to this current system as a "strong mayor" system the commission has found that this term is not accurate. As determined by the Benjamin Institute the City of Poughkeepsie’s current Charter creates a hybrid form of government that exists nowhere else in New York State. Under this charter, the mayor cannot hire or fire department heads; the city administrator does this. Meanwhile, the Mayor appoints the City Administrator, but that appointment is subject to the approval of the Common Council. This often creates confusion about who’s really in charge. The Charter Review Commission’s goal was to essentially carry out the original and recommended intent of the previous commission by creating a true strong mayor. A mayor who can hire and fire the administrator and department heads. Under the proposed system, the buck will stop with the mayor while the laws (and purse strings) will be maintained by the Common Council.

Show All Answers

1. Why was the charter commission started? What was its goal?
2. What has the Commission done prior to making its recommendations?
3. Will the charter changes solve our problems?
4. What is a strong vs. weak mayor? What do we have right now?
5. What other forms did you consider?
6. How will the mayor’s role change under the proposed system?
7. Why make the mayor full-time?
8. Why create a ninth council member? What powers will they have?
9. Why make the ninth council member the presiding officer? Why not let the council people pick their own chair?
10. Isn’t it the Mayor’s job to represent all the wards? Why create another position?
11. What do you say to people who say the council chair will always from the 4th or 8th ward?
12. Won’t this cost us more money which we don’t have?
13. We want less government not more?