It's Not Easy Being Mayor; National Survey Finds Psychological Abuse, Harassment

With mayoral primaries less than two weeks away in a number of Connecticut communities, including high profile races in three of the state’s largest cities – Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven – a new national study suggests it isn’t easy being mayor.  In fact, most mayors across the country indicate that they contend with verbal hostility or physical intimidation at rates above those of the general workforce.

The survey, the basis of a study published in the journal State and Local Government Review, found that 79 percent of mayors reported at least one form of “psychological abuse,” which the survey defined to include harassment, being demeaned or receiving threats. Disrespectful comments or images on social media were by far the most frequent means of abuse.


Nearly half of mayors similarly experienced harassment, while 13 percent reported threats of violence directed toward them, Governing magazine reported in highlighting the survey results. About 11 percent of mayors reported property damage.  The study was headlined, “Not for the Faint of Heart: Assessing Physical Violence and Psychological Abuse Against U.S. Mayors.”

Included in the survey were mayors in U.S. cities with populations above 30,000.  The survey found that “mayors face physical violence and psychological abuse at rates equal to or greater than the general workforce, social media are the most common channels of these actions, and mayors in all types of cities experience violence and abuse,” the research study authors point out.  The lead author is Sue Thomas of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. A number of Connecticut mayors participated in the survey, but the survey authors are not releasing the names or cities of those who responded to the survey.

In Connecticut, primaries for the Democratic mayoral nomination will be conducted on Tuesday, September 10 in Bridgeport, Hamden, Hartford, Middletown, New Haven, West Haven.  On the Republican side, primaries to determine that party’s candidate for Mayor will be held that day in Bridgeport and East Haven.

 There will be Republican primaries to determine nominees for First Selectman in Brooklyn, Killingworth, Plainfield, Preston, Somers, Southbury and Voluntown. There will also be a Democratic primary for First Selectman in Oxford and numerous primaries for other offices in some of those cities and towns, and others, in both political parties, according to the Connecticut Office of Secretary of the State. 

CHART:  “Not for the Faint of Heart: Assessing Physical Violence and Psychological Abuse Against U.S. Mayors," State and Local Government Review; Governing magazine.