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I consider myself an expert on strengthening executive offices, though some cynics might call it power-grabbing. I learned from the master: working with Governor Hunt when he passed succession in 1977 (before that, Governors could serve only one term) and veto in 1996.

So maybe Raleigh needs a stronger mayor. But Charles Meeker’s campaign for a full-time mayor got off to a weak start.

The Mayor and his spokesman even sounded weak. The News & Observer reported:

“I’m sure that he is disappointed he has not always gotten the support from his council members, both Democrat and Republican,” said Perry Woods, who has managed campaigns for Meeker and other Democrats. “Ask Trent Lott what that’s like. I think he has a book called ‘Herding Cats.’ “

Meeker lobbies members hard and sometimes urges them to line up for the sake of Democratic unity. “I’ve attempted that one or two times, and it doesn’t work,” he said. He also admits that he has used the acronym “DINO” — Democrat in Name Only.

Calling Council members cats and DINOs hardly helps. Nor does surprising them with this proposal.

Meeker also told WRAL:

“It is a challenge,” he said of wrangling support. “Sometimes the council doesn’t agree on the merits.”

Well, that’s what City Councils – and Congress and state legislatures – are for: to debate the merits.

Meeker added:

“People expect the mayor to get things done, yet the mayor doesn’t have any formal authority to do so,” Meeker argues.

So what does this mean in practical terms? Giving the mayor a veto over council decisions? Giving him the power to single-handedly make decisions that now require council action?

The primary power of any office – President, Governor, legislator or mayor – is the power to persuade. To sell this idea, the Mayor will need to be a lot more persuasive.

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