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Purpose – To examine how Black mayors in majority-White cities successfully incorporate the interests of African-Americans into their overall agenda for the city and the…
Purpose – To examine how Black mayors in majority-White cities successfully incorporate the interests of African-Americans into their overall agenda for the city and the said effectiveness of this strategy electorally.Design/methodology/approach – Utilizing data from elite interviews and local newspaper articles, we apply the theory of targeted universalism to the governing approach of Jack Ford.Findings – Mayors of color often come into office with the dual responsibility of being an advocate for their respective racial group and a leader for the city as a whole. Jack Ford, the first African-American to be elected as mayor in Toledo, Ohio, took this challenge on gladly, but with mixed success. We find that Jack Ford used his powers as mayor to improve social conditions for Blacks in Toledo, yet also faced challenges in trying to better their economic opportunities. Moreover, he failed to parlay these particularistic efforts into a second electoral victory. In this case, a targeted universalistic policy approach to advancing Black interests had limited effectiveness. The single mayoral term of Jack Ford suggests that Black executives must walk a fine line between their (assumed or expected) racial empowerment role and their duty to advance the various interests that exist among residents of their city. Hence, we find that in order to have lasting electoral success Black mayors must be acutely aware of what is expected of them by the various constituencies they serve and govern accordingly.Research limitations/implications – Because of the chosen research approach, the research results may lack generalizability. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to test the proposed propositions further.Practical implications – The chapter includes implications for the development of an effecting Black mayoral governing strategy wherein the mayor can successfully advocate for the advancement of black interests in majority-White cities with specific policy proposals and programmatic developments.Originality/value – This chapter fulfills an identified need to study the governance of Black mayors in medium-sized cities and their representation of Black interests in the majority White municipal context.