For Mayors, the Future is Now: Professionalization of the American Mayoralty, 1801-1980
43 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009
Date Written: 2009
Prepared for the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, Toronto, September 3-6, 2009.
Urban scholars have produced detailed studies of big city mayors and mayoral decision-making. Empirical research on mayoral careers, however, has lagged behind. To date, there is little consensus on the causes and consequences of mayoral tenure patterns. In this paper, I argue that mayoral tenure is shaped by a combination of local institutions, the electoral setting, and individual characteristics. Among the latter, previous political experience is paramount. To demonstrate this claim, I use sequence analysis methods to construct a novel measure that captures differences among mayors in the number, type and order of offices they occupied. These differences are then analyzed using cluster analysis to identify a few discrete paths to office. Substantively, I find that differences in the path to office can help explain mayoral behavior, including reelection and voluntary retirement.
Keywords: ambition theory, american political development, mayors, political careers, urban politics
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