How about "Captain"?

We received an automated phone message at the home last night from Ron Kirk, urging us to vote for Chris Bell for governor in the primary today. Kirk identified himself at the top of the call as "Mayor Ron Kirk." I didn't think anything of it. But my wife, who heard it later when she got home, took offense

"He's not the mayor," she said.

Good point. (She's sort of a copy editor sometimes.)

I called the office of current Mayor Laura Miller today and spoke with her chief of staff, Frank Librio, who suggested I ask someone else.

I called Casey Ballard, the city's protocol director, who told me that a former mayor's title, in writing, would be "the Honorable," not "Mayor." But she said that when speaking, the rules are gray. She thought it might be perfectly appropriate for someone to address a former mayor as "Mayor" or for a former mayor to introduce himself that way. "But you have to be careful not to convey the impression that he's currently the mayor," she said.

After I hung up, I tried that one on for size. Was Ron Kirk impersonating the current mayor? Nah. He doesn't have the legs for it. Everybody knows he's the former mayor. And come to think of it, when I run into a former mayor, I address him or her as "Mayor." They usually address me as, "I'm sorry?"

So what do you think? A fraud upon the public? Or a justly deserved token of respect? You know: What else are you going to call him? "Hey, nice to see you, One-Time Senatorial Candidate Kirk." —Jim Schutze

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