Clearing up how Riverview city government works

Mayor of Riverview, Michigan - Andrew Swift

Andrew Swift

My fellow Riverview residents, keep up the good fight against Covid-19 by wearing your masks when out in public.  We’ve only had a few new cases in the last month or so.

In my quest to inform the readers of The Riverview Register my goal here is to help you understand the form of our City government.  

In the past few weeks there has been so much false and misinformation on social media about how Riverview City Government works.

The City of Riverview government functions under the Council-Manager plan. Under this form of government, all legislative power is vested in the elected, part-time City Council. This Council consists of a Mayor (the ceremonial head of the City who presides over Council meetings and votes on agenda items) and six Council Members who are elected at large for four-year overlapping terms. 

Each member has a single, equal vote. 

This form is also referred to as a Strong Manager/Weak Council.  

The City manager is responsible for the day to day operations of running the City.  He/she is also responsible for all the hiring, firing, and evaluation of employees. Council sets policy, approves ordinances and passes local laws.

Some of the discussion on social media made reference to the power of the Mayor and Council.  

One person said, “If you want real power, run for the city manager position.”  

This is where I’d like to start educating our community on how we work.  

The office of Mayor and Council are elected positions. Each term as defined by our charter is four years. Our elections are staggered every two years. So every other year you will elect three Council persons.  

The Mayor’s position is voted on every four years as the same cycle as one of the Council terms. I’m sure by now you noticed I didn’t mention the election of a City manager. 

That’s because it doesn’t work that way.

The City Manager is hired by the City Council. He is the only employee that reports directly to the City Council. We have the responsibility of hiring, firing and evaluating his or her performance.

Earlier in this article the Mayor’s position is referred to the ceremonial head of the City who presides over Council meetings. That is the legal description of the position but far from reality. My opinion is that if that’s all the Mayor did, he or she should be removed from office. 

I’ve been called many things since becoming Mayor. So I do have to acknowledge the creativity of the person who came up with this one, Chair Polisher.  

This gets me to the motivation of this article. The author of the “Chair Polisher” comment also referred to me as “Do Nothing Mayor.”

The Mayor, as is every Councilmember, assigned or volunteers for several different committees. The ones I’ve chosen are those that help promote the City of Riverview to our neighboring communities, the county, state, and federal government.  

This “Do Nothing” Mayor spends an enormous amount of time meeting with representatives of the U.S. Congress, State Congress and Senate, County Officials, fellow Mayors and residents.  

I serve on the Executive Boards of The Southeast Michigan Community of Governments, The Downriver Community Conference, and Downriver Mutual Aid.  

These are just a few of the committees.  

I personally enjoy working with representatives of our school district, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, school clubs and veteran groups. We all work together to make Riverview the Safe place to live, work, and play.

If there is anyone who is seriously considering running for Council or even the Mayor’s office I’d be glad to meet with you. This way you can make an informed decision of if public service is right for you.

To close this article I would like to acknowledge the Kiwanis of Riverview in their effort to help returning (virtual and in person) elementary students.  

The Kiwanis distributed “Back-To-School” kits, Doodle Pads, and Dictionaries at a drive through event held at the Riverview Community Center.  

Nearly 100 students took advantage of the distribution and they didn’t even have to get out of the car.

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