Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Effective Council/Manager Relations

April 20, 2012 Public Sector Roundtable

For municipalities, the ethical expectations for public officials flow from the form of government under which the city operates, according to Frank Benest, senior advisor to the International City/County Management Association. Benest addressed the April 20, 2012, meeting of the Ethics Center's Public Sector Roundtable, which focused on ethical challenges that can arise in council-manager cities. In the council-manager form of government, an elected council sets policy for the locality and hires a professional city manager to oversee the implementation of those policies.

Tensions can arise between councils and managers over their respective roles, and each can overstep the bounds of the other. Benest led the group in considering three case studies that illustrate some of these ethical issues and offered advice for managing the relationship.

Cases and Other Resources
Ethical Challenges in the City Manager/City Councilmember Relationship: Case Studies
Do's and Don'ts for Chief Executives and Governing Boards
10 New Rules for Elected Officials in Times of Economic Meltdown

Ethical Challenges for City Managers
Advice for New Managers and Councilmembers


Jason Baker, Campbell
Frank Benest, ICMA
David Boesch, San Mateo
Amy Brown, Campbell
David Casas, Los Altos
Sue Digre, Pacifica
Karina Dominguez, San Jose
Josue Garcia, San Jose
Peter Hamilton, San Jose
Kirk Hanson, MCAE/SCU
Bill Kelly, Santa Clara
Alan Kurotori, Santa Clara
Carol McCarthy, Santa Clara
Michael McFarland, SJ, MCAE/SCU
Jamie McLeod, Santa Clara
Judy Nadler, MCAE/SCU
Pierluigi Oliverio, San Jose
Sarjit Patel, San Jose
Garrett Radcliffe, San Jose
Dan Rich, Mountain View
Nicky Santos, SJ, MCAE/SCU
Miriam Schulman, MCAE/SCU
Marcia Somers, Los Altos
Jennifer Sparacino, Santa Clara
Len Stone, Pacifica
Steve Tate, Morgan Hill


New Materials

Center News