When things get nasty, and they will, you don't want a nice guy in charge
He is intelligent, a commanding public speaker, politically astute and unlike so many council leaders he has insight into how his behaviour effects others. Despite a 40 percent cut in the budget, compulsory redundancies, a wage freeze, the closure of most of the councils libraries, the out sourcing of most of the councils services and the selling off the historic town hall to a hotel group he retains his popularity. When all the options are unpleasant his motto is go for the least worst, he justifies controversial decisions as the lesser of two evils. His staff are clever, loyal and afraid.
The councils is run by the leader, he has the final say on who gets which contracts and which community groups receive grants. In this way he ties in business and cultivates community leaders. He has integrity if by integrity you mean if he says you have a deal then you have a deal. He is the type of man people want to do a favour for.
Others talk of the increasing influence of social media but its the local news paper, radio stations and tv that shape the publics view of the council and its leader. When management posts were cut by a third, as part of doing away with local government bureaucracy, posts in the leaders office weren't exempt but no expense was sparred in poaching a top media professional from the private sector! The leaders office don't just provide good news stories they support investigative journalism, especially when exposing corruption and abuse in the previous administration or the leaders opponents. He knows the power of distraction.
Deception, scandal, betrayal, are all part of the way things get done. And as long as things get done people are prepared to look the other way. He is the most effective council leader in recent history because when things get nasty so does he.