Thursday, June 16, 2005 | A recent study by the National Institute of Public Health found that most of us (not just voters or publicans) will be mentally ill at some point. That really worries me because I have found that to be coming true in the strangest places.
As we, in Civic Solutions, batter our brains to come up with a white paper about the qualities of our next mayor, I feel the illness coming on. One factor that is very subtle is that we must be careful that we do not become cynical ourselves, for that poison can make us as bad as those we criticize.
In Civic Solutions, I’ve noted that cynicism itself can be depressing, so I decided that we’d concentrate on what we believe would make a good mayor. He or she would have to be a team-builder, not just a team-leader. This means the ability to search for excellent competency in several subjects through which the mayor’s team would lead us, such as technical services, information systems, and infrastructure necessary for the city to become the finest, not just claim to be so.
In addition, this person should be willing to focus on seemingly impossible tasks like affordable housing, getting more builders and architects to become interested in rebuilding the poorer sides of the city, and helping the deprived and the gang ridden. This would mean having an understanding of land use, materials, land productivity, new material discovery and utilization, and having the willingness to get rid of unnecessary bureaucracy.
The mayor would be a brilliant listener and would be surrounded by a team who works to gather both what people are feeling as well as what the frustration pot is brewing. Then, they would come up with practical solutions. Economic development should be high priority for that is what builds jobs and hopes.
These are just parts of what a new mayor can bring to the city, while not being preoccupied with just getting re-elected. The main goal is to be effective so that accomplishment is achieved and shared with all portions of the population. Listening is the first step to solution. The mayor should be a possibility thinker, utilizing imagination while energizing his followers, always expanding the constituencies so that all factions are heard and urged to participate.
The mayor of New York City is mentally taxed because the state and inner conflict have usurped his power to get anything done. Our city has a similar problem with the state budgets, especially concerning education. Yes, a good mayor can be the education leader, by his attitude and pursuit of the best that our school system can become.
The mayor’s team should have a working relationship with the media so that they are responsive, not just mischievous. The mayor should staff a department just for “Imagineering,” which is what Mike Stepner, the former city architect, and I have always wished for. Imagination shows up on no brain-scans, but it can activate more enthusiasm than free ice cream.
Most of all, the new mayor must build trust, a most magnificent condition that cultivates expectation and fulfillment.
Sanford “Sandy” Goodkin is acting chairman of Civic Solutions, a group of leaders who analyze San Diego’s problems, prioritize them and search for solutions, representing diverse points of view. He is a trustee of the Urban Land Institute and is a pioneer of residential market and marketing analysis. Read his real estate columns at www.sgoodkin.com.