City council VP is important position

To the editor:

The vice president of the United States is a member of the executive branch, second highest only to the president. The power of the vice president is granted under Article Two, Section One of the Constitution.

The vice president is the first person in line to succeed the president in the event of resignation, removal, or death. He/She is also the president of the Senate and a member of the National Security Council. However, the office has been viewed by the public as simply a figurehead with few duties.

John Adams, the very first, was quoted as saying about his office "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." Richard Nixon, in contrast, reinvented the office by taking the reins of foreign policy. In a visit to the USSR, Nixon debated with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev the merits of capitalism and democracy which helped Nixon as well as the office of the vice president gain prestige in the eyes of the public.

So, you may ask, why the condensed historical version of the role as vice president?


I believe that there are lessons to be learned from history relating to the role of vice president of the City Council. Since the debate has come up recently if the office should be elected by the council or appointed, I have had several individuals ask me how important is this issue? Many have said that the office of vice president is mostly ceremonial. I have to respectfully disagree.

The office of the council vice president is what that individual makes of the responsibilities, similar to what many of the vice presidents of the US have done. I was honored to be appointed to the position two years ago by President Mazzeo. My goal was to try to redefine the position by working closer with the president and to be involved in as many of the conversations as well as decision-making that went on in the city.

Fortunately, both myself and the president had flexible schedules so mayor could involve us in some of the discussions when City Hall was open. Our schedules also enabled us to discuss with department heads items that were coming up on the council agenda and to get questions answered so that we could better inform our fellow councilors. The vice president should also be available to assist new councilors at the beginning of their term (when needed) to help navigate City Hall and respective departments.

My opinion is regardless if the vice president is elected or appointed, that person needs to devote the time and energy to the role they play in city government and hopefully that position will always be viewed as a leadership role by the public and not simply a ceremonial one.

Chris Connell, Pittsfield The writer is vice president of the Pittsfield City Council.