Local Government Day – Leadership Albuquerque

Leadership ABQ 2014I had the privilege of speaking to the 2014 Leadership Albuquerque Class today. The program brings together 40 mid to senior executives in our community and puts them through an eight month curriculum designed to create a “shared vision” for our community. (Read about it here.)

Today was local government day, and due to tax season and illness I was called on to fill both the city and county local government roles. Fortunately, the county and the city are “roommates” down at Government Center and I frequently work with city officials to help my county constituents who just happen to live in the city.

There are significant differences between the two forms of government. The county’s manager form of government tends to be somewhat more responsive as once three county commissioners agree on a policy, the county moves to implement the policy directive. There are no vetoes or a need to override an executive. All of which means that the county can do good things quicker, but it can also do bad things quicker.

In legislative matters the city’s strong executive form can often move more slowly. There are nine members of the City Council and at least five of them have to agree to implement policy and there’s always the possibility of a veto. That’s not always bad, as the executive (mayor) who has day-to-day operational authority over the city has more input into policy matters. You might have noticed that groups don’t always come up with the best of ideas whether they be a group of councilors or commissioners. A mayor has the power to derail sometimes disastrous policy while a county manager is stuck implementing it.

All in all, both the city and the county function pretty well and are really the bodies that have the most impact on your daily life. From roads to public safety, law enforcement to quality of life, it’s your local government that shows up in an emergency, provides protection from criminals, and makes sure that you have the roads and infrastructure necessary to do business and raise your family.