The mayor is the first among equals. It’s something that really struck Jim Sherow during his time as mayor of Manhattan.
Today, he will pass the torch to Mayor Pro-Tem Loren Pepperd at the City Commission’s 7 p.m. meeting.
Reflecting on his year in the office, Sherow noted that the mayor has no more power than any of the other commissioners but is the public face of the community. He said he was constantly aware of that.
“I think a mayor sets a kind of a style,” Sherow said. “He sort of sets expectations for civility and a public face.”
Sherow added it’s interesting that the mayor is often thought of as a solitary position, but noted he or she represents something greater than his own voice.
With that in mind, Sherow said one of his goals, particularly when he was running commission meetings and work sessions, was to facilitate a civil level of discourse. No matter the point of view, Sherow said he worked to make sure everyone’s voice was heard—an important factor in building a rapport with the community.
“When you’re in public, you need to keep in mind what you’re representing and who it is you’re representing,” Sherow said. “That public that you represent is much larger than the votes that put you into office.”
Sherow also started the “mayor’s community service award,” which was presented to city staff members and members of the community at the start of the first meeting of the month. He said it was important to recognize people who are working to build the community.
It’s something that also extended to discussions with fellow commissioners. Sherow said coming into office, he anticipated debate on a number of issues. His goal was to keep that debate respectful. It didn’t happen every time, but for the most part Sherow feels he achieved that goal.
He set other goals as well.
“One was to advance downtown redevelopment,” Sherow said. “I think we certainly did that.”
Sherow pointed to opening of the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center, the opening of the Flint Hills Discovery Center, development of lot 9 and planned improvements on Poyntz Avenue. He said he was pleased play a role in those issues coming about.
“I think results are speaking for themselves,” Sherow said.
Sherow expressed disappointment on a few things, though. He said he would have liked to see the Commission support the Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency’s fixed-route transit plan.
“I still think I’m working toward what is in the best interest of the community in working toward public transportation,” Sherow said.
He was also disappointed to see the rental inspection program and the anti-discrimination ordinance rescinded.
“Life goes on and you continue to hold on to your principles,” Sherow said.
Overall, it was a great experience.
“It’s been a great year to be mayor,” Sherow said. “Think about all the things that have occurred in the community.”