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Sometimes a former manager will decide to live in a community that he or she once managed. When this occurs, how should a former manager conduct himself or herself in these communities? Does this former manager have certain professional obligations to the current manager? Are there certain things a former manager could do that may hurt or help the current manager? What kind of conduct by a former manager is appropriate and what is inappropriate?

From 2012 to 2019, I served as the borough manager of Carlisle, a beautiful, historic, and vibrant town of just under 20,000 residents in south central Pennsylvania. Before my first day of work, I learned that three former managers, who once managed Carlisle, lived in and around the community. I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or bad thing, but I did worry a little that there might be problems ahead. Would these former managers be helpful or hurtful to my efforts? Would they inappropriately intervene with my elected officials and staff members? Would they write letters to the editor criticizing the elected officials or me? Would they run for office?

The three former managers in my community—Al Loomis, Fred Bean, and Steve Hietsch—had a combined 25 years of service to Carlisle. In fact, these three were the three managers who directly proceeded me. Each was a capable, competent, and successful manager in his own right and had made significant contributions to Carlisle and other communities in Pennsylvania. Al Loomis and Fred Bean, in particular, were legendary in Pennsylvania local government.

It didn’t take long to realize that these three former managers, rather than being a hinderance or source of frustration, would become a source of expertise, professional advice, moral support, and friendship.

Welcome to the Borough

Shortly after my first day of work, each of these former managers reached out to me, introduced themselves, and welcomed me to the community. They briefly explained their tenures with the borough and described some of their accomplishments and challenges. They also made sure I knew that they were each available if I ever had a question about past borough events, policies, or history. Of course, this allayed many of my initial concerns about how these three managers would conduct themselves during my tenure as manager. In short, it was a very nice start.

Access to Expertise and Advice

It only took a few months before the first controversial issue arose in Carlisle. Borough council asked me to study the advisability of closing the borough’s police dispatch center and allow the County 911 Center to take over. Needless to say, this was an extremely controversial issue with the police and its supporters strongly opposed.

Remembering their kind offer to call them any time, I decided to reach out to Fred Bean and Steve Hietsch. Both turned out to be extremely knowledgeable on the subject and willingly shared their knowledge and perspectives with me. Both were very helpful in providing background information and advice of where I could find additional information. In the end, thanks in part to Fred and Steve’s help, I was able to provide a well-thought-out recommendation for transitioning to the County 911 Center, which the council subsequently voted to approve.

Sometime later, the borough was faced with the prospect of a complete rehabilitation of its aging water and sewer system. The costs would likely be in the tens, and eventually even hundreds of millions of dollars. Again I turned to Al, Fred, and Steve. Each provided insight about their understanding of the state of the two systems, but they also explained how the advice they had received during their tenures now seemed incomplete and even inaccurate. This explained why many improvements had not been completed up to that point. They were able to pinpoint where some of the roadblocks were and how to navigate through them. Their advice was critical in helping me make the case for why the borough needed to make the improvements. While they did not comment publicly on the matter and did not attend public meetings, their assistance with much-needed background information was essential.

These former managers continued to be a reliable go-to source for background information, expertise, and advice for many other issues that arose. None of them came to me to offer their advice or opinions, but were always willing to help in any way they could and were gracious with their time and insights.

Controversial Political issues

Carlisle is a very politically active community. Dickinson College, a liberal arts college that has been a stakeholder in the community for over 200 years, has taken an increasingly activist role over the past few decades. While each of these former managers certainly held their own views on political issues, none of them ever entered the political debate. To my knowledge, none of them contacted any elected officials to express their views. None of them wrote a letter to the editor or otherwise commented publicly. If they had, it would have likely created some very challenging circumstances for me and for the then-current council.

Staffing Issues

In the course of my tenure, there were also a few high-profile staffing decisions that I made. One decision included the termination of a long-standing employee with whom these three former managers had worked. While their respective views may have differed a little from each other on what should have been done with this employee, none of them vocalized their opinions. Again, each of them were willing and available to share their experiences with this employee while at the same time respecting my decision on the best way forward. To my knowledge, none of them commented publicly or privately on my decision.

Dependable Friends

I served as Carlisle’s manager for seven wonderful years. The last year was a bit rocky as the politics changed in the community. Shortly after I announced my resignation in 2019, Al and Fred both reached out to me and said exactly the things that a manager wants to hear when leaving a community. I realized then that these former managers were not only professional colleagues, but had become my friends.

I now serve as the township manager in Upper Moreland Township, just outside of Philadelphia. I still stay in touch with Al and Fred and consider them friends. From time to time we will share a note or get together for lunch and share war stories and talk about local government. I still consider both Al and Fred as resources I can go to for expertise in local government.


What I initially feared would be an untenable situation turned out to be a great blessing in my professional and personal life. How former managers conduct themselves in communities they once managed can reflect well or poorly on our profession. My experience with these three former managers showed me how professional and ethical former managers conduct themselves and how this not only reflects well on our profession but can be beneficial to the communities they once served. In summary, these three former managers:

  • Welcomed me into the community.
  • Served as valuable sources of information and expertise.
  • Did not involve themselves in local politics.
  • Did not involve themselves with elected officials.
  • Did not involve themselves in staffing issues.
  • Were sources of friendship and support during challenging times.

While some may disagree with what conduct is ethical or appropriate for former managers who live in communities they once served, from my perspective, these three former managers exemplified the pinnacle of professional and ethical conduct.

Headshot of author Matt Candland


MATT CANDLAND, ICMA-CM, is township manager of Upper Moreland Township, Pennsylvania.

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