Will Mike Rawlings Try to Make a Strong-Mayor Initiative His Swan Song?

I have a friend who told me a story about the first time he moved in with a girlfriend. It was their first night together, so of course they snuggled and cooed in bed before falling asleep. Well, she fell asleep. He stared at the ceiling, wide-eyed, and thought to himself, “Okay, it’s clear I hate this. How long before I can call it quits and still seem like a reasonable human being?” His answer: six months, a date he kept.

That’s Mike Rawlings right now. It wasn’t long into this mayoral gig, folks around him say, when he realized he kinda dislikes being mayor. He is good at running a business, not bargaining for votes behind closed doors. Unlike in a real company, the mayor has little power in Dallas except by using the media cred he or she can earn to pimp for worthy causes. To his credit, Rawlings has done that with the domestic violence issue and received justifiable praise for it.

Now, a man can change his mind, and this could just be people wrongly believing his frustration is greater than it really is. But what if he does decide he won’t run again? What will he make his next pet project?

Folks who know a thing or two about a thing or two tell me he’s noodling the idea of advocating loudly for a new strong-mayor system to replace the city manager/weak-mayor system we currently have. Rawlings thinks that it will take someone who isn’t running again to coalesce public support behind such a change, so it doesn’t look like a power grab. I think he’s right, and I hope he does this. The most powerful person in the city should be electable and answerable, and our city managers are not.


  • Don Key

    “Okay, it’s clear I hate this. How long before I can call it quits and still seem like a reasonable human being?” His answer: six months, a date he kept. (File this away for Rogers post on Celeste’s next departure from D.)

    • Eric Celeste

      I didn’t think anyone would catch that. Bravo.

    • Tim Rogers

      I add a bravo to Eric’s bravo.

  • Peter Simek

    And, to the state the obvious, good timing with Suhm heading for the exit. There won’t be an internal power broker clinging to a job.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    But how would this work? Rawlings would have to turn his back on the DCC, who got him elected in the first place.

    Wouldn’t they come after him with a shotgun?

    • AmyS

      He’ll be promoted to running the Dallas Convention Center. Less bureaucracy, better budget.

  • Alexander Muse

    Moving to a strong-mayor form of city government is key to helping Dallas become a world class city. We are on our way, but we need a real leader with REAL power to help get us there. Our current system prevents us from hiring effective leaders…

  • RAB

    When I first started reading Eric’s post, I assumed he was talking about quitting D already — “Wow, that was fast,” I thought — and I then I looked up to the heading was confused by the reference to Rawlings.

    (I agree with Don Key, but I’ll take the under for $100.)

  • AmyS

    I’ll take long odds. 3 years and over. Statistically it’s time for a change. Don’t fail me EC.

    • Wes Mantooth

      Hey, now. I’m the one who sets the lines around here, takes the bets, breaks the kneecaps. For now, there’s no action on this line because the editor issue isn’t resolved, and that’s a dealbreaker. Once McGill signs on for this asylum again, then we’ll talk.

  • Jim Schermbeck

    Good idea. I can think of at least one former Mayor who’d think so too.

  • Tim Rogers

    Reporter: “What, umm, do you like this gig?”

    Rawlings: “No. I, I, uh, uh, uh love my job. It’s a …”

    Reporter: “That wasn’t the question! Do you like your job?”

    Rawlings: “Maybe I don’t understand the question.”

  • Pegaso

    One thing Rawlings did promise when he campaigned for mayor was that he’d spend X amount of hours per week calling his old CEO buddies and get a major company to relocate to Dallas. Still waiting on a big announcement (the Byron Nelson doesn’t count).

    As for pushing a strong mayor system, I think that’s a fantastic idea. It would be the best thing Rawlings could do.

  • Greg

    You people sit around waiting for a lame duck mayor to hand you a strong mayor system because an itinerant writer suggested it would be cooler if he did and then wonder why people other than you run things in this town.

    Guess who has a strong mayor system? Those cities whose citizens decide to have them.

    Guess who doesn’t? You. You don’t.

    • Eric Celeste


      1. Lame duck mayor. (No. He’s as powerful as any mayor since Kirk right now.)
      2. Didn’t say cooler. Said more effective. (Although it WOULD be cooler.)
      3. Don’t wonder why at all. I’m an idiot. You shouldn’t trust me running a birthday party.
      4. Excellent point. Cities that decided to have such a system have such a system. Can’t argue.
      5. We don’t. That is true. You did finish strong.