We’re typically not in favor of such measures as proposed this week to raise the salaries of councilmembers and the mayor of Lawton, but in this case, we think the measure is justified.
Councilpersons — if they’re truly serving the public — are accessible to constituents and take a significant amount of time from their families in their roles. When annualized, their pay is less than $1,000 a month. If you factor in council meetings, study sessions, and all the time spent analyzing a variety of issues, it seems more than just a pat on the back is warranted. If it were a minimum wage job, that works out to be about 26 and a half hours a week. Some may argue that councilmembers don’t spend that much time in public service, but we also don’t want minimum wage people running our city government.
As for the mayor making $30,000, we first thought that might be a bit much. However, current Mayor Stan Booker truly does put in the time. He’s active, engaged and there’s seldom a community event where he’s not there telling you he’s “some kind of wonderful.” Done right, we feel the job as the “face of Lawton”, which the mayor typically is, deserves that kind of salary. Again, when it’s done right.
Our only caveat to the proposal by Ward 5 Councilman Dwight Tanner (who won’t benefit from his request because he’ll have left office before it takes effect), would be to ask those serving to document their time spent in service.
There’s a couple of reasons for that. First, it keeps them accountable to the constituents, and lets the voters know exactly how much time these folks are committing on the public’s behalf. Second, if we reach a situation in the future where we have a councilperson or mayor who can’t justify their time, it gives voters some information the next time they go to the polls.
Again, with the current council, we think the bump is deserved, but also think voters would find it enlightening when they can see just how much is invested on their behalf.