Who is the second most powerful person in the world? by Tony Garcia
Answer by Tony Garcia:
This may sound facetious to some, but there is a theory, brought to prominence during Rudy Giuliani’s two terms (covering the 9/11 attacks) and revitalized during Mike Bloomberg’s three terms, that the Mayor of New York City was the second most important/powerful political figure in the world, behind the president of the United States.
Mitchell Moss, professor of urban policy and planning at New York University, describes the mayor of New York City as the most powerful in the world because the job comes with unique executive powers—hiring and firing the people heading the city's key agencies like police and schools, while also setting the budget, which will exceed $70 billion dollars.
"The California governor doesn't even have that power. And the mayor controls the education of one million children. Education around the world is usually a national responsibility and not a city governor responsibility."
The person heading the largest city in the U.S. enjoys an international profile. After 9/11, the no-nonsense figure of Rudy Giuliani came to represent the city and the country at its time of need.
Mike Bloomberg's forays into public health—bans on smoking and trans-fats, and attempts to limit fizzy drink sizes—have inspired mayors the world over to intervene in health matters without fear of being accused of nannying, according to Tony Travers of the London School of Economics.
Mayors who act as state governors are more powerful than Bloomberg but none has his influence, says Tann vom Hove, a senior fellow at the City Mayors Foundation, an international think-tank. They can be more effective than national politicians because there is less posturing, says local government expert Tony Travers of the London School of Economics.
Political theorist Benjamin Barber takes this argument a step further in his book, If Mayors Ruled The World, in which he says mayors are far better at addressing global issues than heads of nation states. Countries are dysfunctional in global relations, he argues, because they're walled states with borders strengthened by sovereignty and national culture.
“National political figures adhere to great historical norms and political ideologies but mayors have to fix things—they have to pick up the garbage and fix the sewer. They're problem solvers and that's what makes them pragmatic.”
So, here’s my vote for the second most powerful position person on the global stage: mayor of New York City.