What we need from a new mayor

Longtime Alpena mayor Matt Waligora won’t be at the first 2024 meeting of the Alpena Municipal Council. A few weeks ago, he announced his resignation, effective New Year’s Eve.

At the first meeting of the new year, the council will name one of its own as a temporary mayor to fill out the remainder of Waligora’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2024. Someone — perhaps the councilmember appointed interim mayor — will then win the November 2024 election to serve the next full mayoral term.

We don’t yet know which of the councilmembers will seek the mayor’s seat, and we won’t tell the council whom it should select as the next mayor.

We do, however, think the job comes with a few prerequisites.

To wit:

The new mayor — even the interim one — should serve openly, making himself or herself accessible to every Alpenan with questions or concerns about city government.

He or she must lead with a friendly disposition that welcomes debate and discussion with open ears, heart, and mind.

He or she must be disciplined, investing taxpayer dollars wisely, striking that balance between providing ample services to the residents of this city and maintaining a healthy cash savings account.

He or she must be good at building solid working relationships, the kind of relationships that lead to productive negotiations. If the yearslong court battle with Alpena Township over water and sewer rates isn’t ended during the brief remainder of Waligora’s tenure, we hope the next mayor can reach some sort of settlement. Beyond that, the mayor needs to lead the city into strong partnerships with neighboring local governments, with other agencies such as the Alpena Downtown Development Authority and the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, with the state and federal governments, and others.

We need an innovative mayor, one who can think outside the box to face hurdles creatively.

We hope the council will consider such attributes when they make their selection after the first of the year, and we hope voters will consider such attributes when they head to the polls next fall.



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