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City leaders show weak support for strong mayor

LARGO -- A resident's quest to transform Largo's system of government hit a snag Tuesday night, when city leaders decided not to put his requests on the ballot.

Harry Ploger led a petition drive, hoping to convince City Commissioners to ask voters if they want a strong mayor system in Largo. Ploger admitted he had a beef with Largo's city manager, Mac Craig, over a long-awaited sidewalk in his neighborhood. Commissioner Mary Gray Black suggested a straw poll to see if voters supported Ploger's requests, which also included adding runoff election procedures and converting Largo into an aldermanic system with 12 representatives, each looking out for the interests of one district.

Commissioner Harriet Crozier wasn't blown away by the support for Ploger's requests. Less than 60 names accompanied Ploger's petition and several listed the same address, which happened to be a restaurant, she said.

Mayor Pat Gerard pointed out that strong mayors are often flanked by municipal administrators. And she said she wasn't eager to replicate Chicago politics by instituting the aldermanic system.

Ultimately, the commission decided to refer Ploger's requests to the city's charter review committee, set to convene next year. After the meeting, Black said she didn't necessarily support the requests herself, except for the runoff provision. "I personally support a city manager form of government but I thought the people should have the say if they would prefer a strong mayor form of government," Black said.

Posted by Lorri Helfand at 12:07:39 am on May 11, 2011