The April 25 issue of Time includes a report on “The Five Best Big-City Mayors” (article available only to Time subscribers). Honored are Chicago’s Richard Daley, Baltimore’s Martin O’Malley, New York’s Michael Bloomberg, Atlanta’s Shirley Franklin, and — you guessed it — Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.
When Hickenlooper, who is called Mayor Hick, took office in July 2003, he inherited a $70 million budget deficit, the worst in city history. He eliminated the shortfall without major service cuts or layoffs, convincing city employees that they should accept less pay and instituting mandatory leave days (he slashed his salary 25%). Bucking the wisdom that you don’t take on city-hall unions, he pushed for an incentive-based compensation system for public employees, which voters approved in 2003. And in his biggest score, he won approval for a $4.7 billion mass-transit plan, which involved persuading voters, along with about a dozen mayors in seven regional counties, to back a sales-tax hike.
Forget running for governor, with press like this, maybe it’s time to start thinking bigger.