How much do you know about your local government? Have you been to a town meeting, a zoning board meeting, do you vote in your local elections? Have you ever considered the people that make the laws and regulations for your town? What type of government form does your town have? Is it Commission, Council-Manager, Mayor-Council or a town meeting?
The two most common forms of local government in the U.S. are Council-Manager and Mayor-Council. The Council-Manager form is when there is a city or town manager who appoints department heads, they oversee day-to-day business, they prepare the annual budget and are the ones to provide the information that is given to the City Council. In Gorham, New Hampshire, there is a Town Manager who oversees the Selectboard that has been elected by the citizens of the town. The Town Manager is hired and not elected to this position. The Board of Selectmen create plans and goals that they hope to achieve (“Board of Selectmen”, n.d.). This is then worked on with the Town Manager who has some power to make the budget and pass certain laws and regulations in the town.
There is the Mayor-Council form of government that is mainly used in small towns or large cities. This is when a Mayor is elected by the citizens and there is a Council that is voted for as well . The Mayor may have veto power over the Council, may even be able to appoint the department heads and they also oversee the day-to-day workings of the city administration. You may live in a town with a Mayor that might be very present around town, they go to events in town and even make a speech at some sort of gathering. Other towns/cities Mayors may be less present within town and manage more from behind the scenes. In Manchester, New Hampshire, there is a Mayor. Currently, it is Joyce Craig for Mayor which is an elected position. Also, there is the Alderman who make up representatives from each ward in the city and two other members from the city at large. They function just as any other City Council does and carry the same powers and responsibilities. On the town website, it was not specifically mentioned how many duties they have, but they should be holding a monthly meeting for public comments (Aldermen, 2020”).
Another form of government that seems to be entering New Hampshire is a combination of Mayor/Manager/City Council that all work together. In this case, the City Council appoints a City Manager who serves as the chief executive officer of the City (“City Manager”, 2020). On the City of Keene website it says “Under the Mayor/Council/Manager form of government adopted by Keene, the Mayor and Council establish policies for operations within the city, and it is the Manager’s responsibility to ensure these policies are carried out. In general, the position supervises all property and business affairs of the city and oversees expenditure of all funds appropriated for city purposes.”.
I feel that each city or town may need a different form of government to meet their needs and goals. However, I also feel that many times a Selectboard/City Council or even a Mayor may hold too much power in these decisions. For instance, having a City Council appoint a City Manager that they may like and prefer the best can possibly allow them to have more power and leeway when making decisions. The best options that I personally saw were Gorham’s and Keene’s role of City/Town Manager. In Gorham, the position is hired and not appointed or elected. Keene’s Town Manager is appointed, but there is also the balance of a Mayor and large City Council to balance power.
Aldermen. Retrieved from https://www.manchesternh.gov/Mayor-and-Aldermen/Aldermen.
Board of Selectmen. Retrieved from https://www.gorhamnh.org/board-selectmen.
City Manager. (2020). Retrieved from https://ci.keene.nh.us/my-city-government/city-manager).