In March, the citizens of Crestview must ask themselves: Is the system they operate under broken?
While a city form of government is nothing like our federal government — with a true checks and balance system — the current charter was established for a reason. In the current charter, the mayor and the city council both have powers, which help oversee the other.
It is not like our three-prong federal government, but it has worked for 90-plus years.
The biggest concern is over the possible creation of a city administrator, who would be hired and work at the wishes of those presiding on the city council.
While the issue of money is a valid one, an even bigger question is what will happen to the city administrator if he or she conflicts with the council or mayor. A prime example of these concerns and issues has occurred to the west of us in Escambia County. Just this past week, Escambia County set themselves up to start the search for a fourth county administrator in roughly the same number of years since they serve at the will of the commissioners.
Thus, the concern of politics, at its worse form, raises its ugly head.
What happens if the city administrator conflicts with two city council members and they can rally those seated with them?
Currently, the mayor, council and city clerk are all elected by the citizens and serve at their will. Shouldn't the people have the say — and a wide variety of belly buttons to push — if they have a concern or issue involving the city of Crestview?
Now, under the proposed charter, you want the people to have their mayor become a figurehead, instead of what the people elected him or her to do in the first place. But what should the city expect from a figurehead when it comes to issues of economic development, issues with the state or Okaloosa County?
Be mindful that Florida does have a very interesting and straightforward sunshine law that could jump up to grab a powerful city council if too many of them are in the same location, privately discussing matters they will deliberate on later.
With the need for more industry and jobs in Crestview, and how the city has to woo those looking to relocate any type of significant industry, the city needs a strong leader — not a figurehead.
Finally, Crestview residents must look at the city's finances.
Hiring a city administrator or manager is going to be quite expensive, so who is willing to take on that salary? And let us not forget benefits, retirement, a city car, and so forth.
What city services are you willing to sacrifice to fix something that is not broken to begin with?
Before picking your option, ask yourself what are you willing to give up or have the city council take away from you.
Bill Gamblin is the Editor of the Santa Rosa’s Press Gazzette.