Watford residents will already know that Watford Mayoral and ward elections are taking place on Thursday 3 May. This has sparked lots of questions about the role of elected Mayor, so we’ve put together the below to provide residents with the information they need before voting.
What is a directly elected Mayor?
Directly elected Mayors for councils was introduced in the Local Government Act 2000 as one of a number of new ways of governing local councils. Enabling people to elect their town or city Mayor is seen to strengthen the link between the person responsible for running an area (the elected Mayor) and the communities they serve. By having one individual in charge and elected by local people, rather than chosen by local councillors, people are able to point towards a single person who is ultimately answerable for local decisions and policies.
Why does Watford have a directly elected Mayor?
In order to have an elected Mayor in Watford, the council first had to agree the change and then hold a referendum. Residents voted to replace the council leader model with an elected Mayor in 2001. A year later, the first mayoral election was held.
What is the benefit of a directly elected Mayor?
Watford’s experience since 2002 has demonstrated many advantages of having an elected Mayor. Firstly, a directly elected Mayor has clear accountability to the electorate. An elected Mayor is the leader of a place, not just the leader of the council. This means they have the authority to make tough strategic decisions and build major partnerships. They unite people and organisations behind a single vision for the whole place – and they are held to account by residents for that vision and their decisions at each mayoral election. These happen once every four years, giving elected mayors the time to make a difference and provide stable leadership.
What is the difference between an elected Mayor and a ceremonial Mayor?
Many councils have a civic Mayor, who carries out ceremonial duties but cannot make any decisions about council business. They are chosen by councillors for a year to represent the council. In Watford we have a Chairman who carries out these civic responsibilities, with a different councillor nominated to take on the role of Chairman each year.
How do residents vote for the elected Mayor?
Watford residents should bring their poll card when they go along to vote on 3 May to choose their next elected Mayor. The ballot paper is different from the one used for borough ward and parliamentary elections. This is because the supplementary voting system is used for elected Mayors.
Under supplementary voting, voters have a first preference choice and also a second preference choice.
The ballot paper lists the name of each candidate along with their party name, party logo and their address. There are two columns next to each name. Watford voters will be asked to vote for their first-choice candidate by marking a cross (X) in the first-choice column, and vote for their second-choice candidate by marking a cross (X) in the second-choice column.
If voters have marked a first-choice, they can choose to mark a second-choice. But if they only mark a cross in the second-choice column, their vote won’t be counted.
See the below graphic for more information: