To encourage young people to consider local government management as an exciting career opportunity, two veteran ICMA members recently discussed their enthusiasm for their jobs and why they recommend the local government management profession as an exciting career option.
The current demographics of professional local government managers indicate that as an increasing number of baby boom managers retire and leave vacancies in the coming years, cities, towns, and counties will need skilled, trained, and committed managers to replace them.
A 2012 ICMA survey, for example, showed that 89 percent of its membership is age 41 or older. As the economy improves, older managers who postponed retirement because of the economic downturn are likely to leave the workforce, and it is imperative that local governments have a large pool of educated, experienced, nonpartisan, and talented managers to meet the challenges of the coming decades.
Scott Hancock, executive director of the Maryland Municipal League and a former long-time professional local government manager, uses a football analogy (created as part of ICMA’s Life, Well Run public awareness campaign) to explain how elected officials, managers, and their staffs work together. “You have the coach, who happens to be the elected official,” he said. “You have the quarterback, who is actually directing the plays, taking his or her lead from the coach, and then you have the team, which are all the dedicated public safety officials and public works individuals who are out there taking care of the quality of life services that local governments provide day after day.”
“What you really need to be an effective professional local government manager is to have a passion for serving people,” adds Patricia Martel, city manager of Daly City, California. “I would absolutely recommend it as an outstanding career and I do— frequently. I don’t think there’s any better profession where you have an opportunity to enhance the quality of life for people and to really make a difference.”
Scott Hancock and Pat Martel participated in a series of live radio and television interview on January 23, 2014, that were coordinated through a “media tour” as part of ICMA’s celebration of its centennial anniversary and the 100-year legacy of professional local government management and to further promote the organization’s Life, Well Run public awareness campaign.