On Tuesday evening, members of town staff, the town council, members of the media and interested residents gathered at Payson Town Hall to hear Mayor Bob Edwards give a speech that he called the State of the Town.
Mostly, the speech listed the positive things that had happened since the election. It was written with an intention to cheerlead and inspire his constituents, but also to set forth his goals as mayor for the upcoming year.
This was a piece of political professionalism that is rare for a small town mayor.
Within his speech, Edwards made a few stands that upset those who were listening through the television, the radio or on the Web.
The next day, the phone at the Payson Roundup was ringing and angry voices were at the other end.
We heard comments like, "Who does he think he is?" and "How did this mayor get so much power?"
It was that last question that gave us pause and we feel it needs to be addressed.
Does Bob Edwards have more power than previous mayors?
Edwards has a large personality and he is given to grand gestures, such as holding a televised State of the Town address and making his decisions with the recommendations of 18 citizen task forces.
So, it may appear to some that Edwards is ruling from a different place than those elected before him, but that is only perception.
Payson is operated under a weak mayor system. This is a common system in small towns.
In this form, the mayor has one vote -- though he may lead the meetings, at the end of the day he has no more voting power than any other member of the council.
According to our town code, the mayor serves a two-year term, as opposed to the four-year terms served by other members of the council.
(For a complete description of the way our local government operates, visit the payson.com archives and read "Government 101: An overview of who runs Payson and how it got that way," published on June 9, 2006.)
None of this has changed under Edwards -- he is still one vote, one man, who is already on his way to the end of the first year in a two-year term.
The checks have been put in place so that nothing can be passed by one man.
That knowledge is dealt in two directions -- to those who have put all their faith in our mayor and to those who vilify him.