Elected Mayor or Appointed City Manager?

Any discussion of reform of the Worcester City Charter quickly gets dominated by the question of leadership. Since we began a discussion on this topic in 2023, we’ve consistently heard, “So you want a strong mayor?”

Our answer: A strong maybe.

Our position is that if the leader of the city’s government has as much power as the city manager does in Worcester’s current system, they should be elected. There is more than one way to fix that.

In a system with a strong city council with the responsibility, authority, and resources for robust oversight, the power to modify allocations in the budget, and the ability to act independently, a professional leading the operations of the city has some benefits.

However, a head of operations could also report to an elected mayor.

While it is understandable that the question of mayor or manager is at the top of the minds of many, we don’t see that as nearly the most important question to be answered.

We believe that the balance of power and authority between the executive branch, whomever leads it, and the legislative branch, the elected representatives of residents, is far more important.