Berlin Mayor Gee Williams’ success has been his ability to bring business acumen to the office. But this same administrative skill could turn into a liability for two important reasons.
First, in the private sector it is the business owner who pays for errors in judgment. When an elected official does so, no matter how well conceived, the citizens pay the cost of correcting the mistake. This is why a more collaborative process is essential.
A second but equally important difference between mayor and CEO is that the commissions set up to advise are primarily made up of volunteers who are dedicated to civic duty. While no one believes the administration must always abide by committee recommendation, it is crucial that the appointees and the rest of the citizenry retain faith in the deliberative process.
Williams has so far had success finessing the bureaucracy but there is some concern he could run out of goodwill. Public trust is so much easier to lose than it is to gain and whether the mayor has the political capital to withstand too many more accusations of administrative end-arounds is coming into question.
There’s a fine line between being a can-do politician and being dismissive of the political process. While there is no question of the mayor’s commitment, as the disconnect between intention and results widens Williams would do well to display a more appropriate respect for the process.