Herald Opinion: Time to start voting for who we want as mayor?

CONGRATULATIONS to Mike Thompson who this week became the mayor of Eastbourne.

The Hampden Park councillor is a good choice and will no doubt carry on from where his predecessor Carolyn Heaps left off.

Cllr Heaps proved a popular mayor during her stint wearing the gold chains of office – not least because of her willingness to get out and meet people, spend time with community groups and have a go at just about anything and everything.

How many towns have boasted a mayor who, in the space of just a few weeks, plunged fully clothed into a swimming pool, raced around on the back of a Jet Ski and staged a casino fundraiser in a local nightclub?

Cllr Heaps is a one off and someone who has worked tirelessly for the people of Eastbourne.

In fact, the only minor blemish on her political CV is perhaps the handling of the controversial skate park in Manor Gardens.

She was criticised by some residents who believed Cllr Heaps and her Lib Dem colleagues had ridden roughshod over the genuine concerns of locals and that the decision to push ahead with the scheme was a done deal long before it reached planning consent stage.

That said, it would be a crying shame if that was how people remembered her time as mayor.

A delightful lady, a hard-working councillor and a wonderful example of a public servant who throws everything into the job of representing residents.

Cllr Thompson certainly finds himself with a tough act to follow and we wish him all the best.

However, the appointment of a new mayor is perhaps as good a place as any to raise the question over whether or not the position should be elected by voters, or chosen from within by councillors.

At a time when party political game playing seems more distasteful than ever perhaps it is time to start voting for who we want as mayor rather than being told.