The city of South Pasadena ended its election day last Tuesday opting for a new mayor. Former commissioner Max Elson will be sworn in on March 29, replacing his opponent and former mayor, Dan Calabria.
“I just think in general people thought it was time for a change,” Elson said in a recent interview. “I think [Calabria’s] lawsuit against the city didn’t ring well with a lot of people.”
Elson says he is ready to get to work immediately.
“Number one, I want to get together with [businesses] who have come in – Ace Hardware, Taco Bell, Wall-Mart, PetSmart, Anytime Fitness – who have come in in the last three or four years and ask ‘why’ and ‘what they like about [South Pasadena],’” Elson said. “And two, I want to start a dialogue with Palms of Pasadena and really work towards making this community a medical destination.”
Elson explained that Palms of Pasadena has a “tremendous growth plan” laid out, and says he hopes to create a partnership between the city and the hospital to possibly fill some of the vacant properties with medical facilities.
“It’s just an idea, but I want to formulate a plan,” Elson said.
While the mayoral campaign was often contentous, Elson says his relationship with the current commission and city staff “couldn’t be better.” Elson says he is ready to move forward as a community, past the devisivness of recent politics.
“I don’t feel like we’ve made the progress we should have over the past three years, and I’m excited to be able to catch up and I want to pack the next three years with some accomplishments we lost out on in the last three years. It’s going to be a busy period of time,” Elson said.
Elson says he would also like to improve on with relations with South Pasadena’s neighbor cities, potentiall creating more “inter-local agreements” with Gulfport and St. Pete Beach to ease expenses between the three municipalities. Elson has yet to devise a plan, but says he will be meeting with local mayors once he takes office.
As mayor, Elson will be head of a unique form of government in the state of Florida. The commission-type of government in South Pasadena lacks a city manager, but also utilizes a “weak mayor.”
According to Dave Saffell’s State and Local Government: Politics and Public Policies, a “weak mayor” has “no formal authority outside of the council; the mayor cannot appoint or remove officials, and lacks veto power over council votes.”
According to Elson, he plans on keeping it this way, as it is “cost efficient” and he “sees no need for a city manager” in South Pasadena.
Compared to his former seat as a commissioner, Elson admits there is some increased commitment in being mayor. It’s a responsibility he says he is prepared for.
“I try to do homework before each workshop, but now I have to do homework in terms of chairing the meeting and making it go smoothly,” Elson said. “It’s not a lot more work, just more organization.”