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Local government management: Every coach needs a quarterback 

League President Goldsboro Mayor Al King. Photo credit: Jessica Wells
Since the beginning of the council-manager form of government, North Carolina has been committed to excellence in management and ethics. We have top-notch managers who stay at the top of their profession to provide great places for us to live.

Our professional managers and their teams play an essential role in helping to develop and deliver the services that make North Carolina cities and towns thrive. When it comes to implementing  the policies that our elected officials create – for new bike lanes or parking lanes, green space or garage space, a courthouse or a convention center – professional local government managers contribute to the choices that shape how communities look and feel.

As mayor of Goldsboro, I observe firsthand how professional management can help make good communities great. Professional managers are the people who turn a policy into action and visionary ideas into tangible results. By partnering with me and the rest of Goldsboro’s elected officials, our city manager, Scott Stevens, has been able to improve customer service, sidewalk connectivity, planning for park construction and renovations, and so much more. None of this could have been possible without the leadership and professionalism of Scott and his team.

I am inspired by the commitment that professional local government managers have to their profession, and how their keen sense of public service and ethical behavior lead to a community we can all feel proud to call home.

More than 73 percent of cities, towns and counties across America with a population of 2,500 or more that have a professional local government manager. A 2011 study by IBM Global Business Services found that professionally managed cities are nearly 10 percent more efficient than those without professional managers. They are committed to values that strengthen our local democracy: transparency, integrity, stewardship of public resources, political neutrality, and respect for the rights and responsibilities of both elected officials and residents. They help communities run more efficiently, saving taxpayers money and enabling cities, towns, and counties to do more with less.

We must ensure that our communities and others continue to operate ethically and efficiently with the help of professional local government management. As thousands of current local government managers near retirement, there is a burgeoning need to prepare young professionals to fill their shoes.

As the federal and state governments cede many responsibilities to the local level, professional local government managers have even more opportunities to make a difference in their communities.

Besides those of us elected to office, local government consists of a team managed by a professional who is trained to provide ethical, effective, efficient leadership. North Carolina is lucky to have these dedicated public servants to lead our municipalities.

These public servants are involved in organizations like the North Carolina City/County Management Association, an affiliate of the International City County Management Association that promotes professional local government worldwide through training, support and campaigns like Life, Well Run.

The campaign exists to raise the profile of professional managers because we need people to know how important city managers are to the health of our communities. I encourage you to visit LifeWellRun.org to learn more about the value that professional government managers bring to building effective local government and great communities.