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ICMA’s Senior Advisor program makes available to ICMA members the experience, advice, and support of respected, retired managers of the local government management profession.

We asked three senior advisors about the Code of Ethics, and they shared their recommendations for current practitioners:


Pamela Brangaccio, senior advisor, Florida

ICMA member since 1984

“I often think of the ICMA Code of Ethics as a ‘north star’ for members to keep a professional focus while polarizing issues are occurring within a community and among our elected officials. The Code sets us apart from the fray, requiring us to remain neutral. It’s not always easy to remain neutral, as we are strong, educated individuals with our own belief systems, but it is necessary.

I have been a Member in Transition (MIT) twice and left two very bad situations with my head held high, knowing I followed the Code. After my contract was not renewed, one press headline read, “Brangaccio Class Act.”

I can live my life knowing I made the ethical choices required of me as a manager throughout my career (from personnel decisions to zoning and land-use recommendations to procurement contracts, and more). The Code impacts all facets of our lives and careers, but it’s a code worthy of ICMA members and it distinguishes us.

My mentors had the Code framed and hung in their offices. I didn’t appreciate the value of that act when I was a brand new ICMA member, but quickly learned the value when I became a new city manager, and a long-term mayor began questioning my personnel decisions to the media. When things get really hard and you’re trying to stay above the political noise, think of the Code as your shield.

I recently used the Code with a charter review committee when comparing what it means to be an appointed manager versus an elected manager. There’s no doubt the Code sets ICMA members apart and it should be displayed proudly in our offices.”

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Kevin Duggan, senior advisor, California

ICMA member since 1974

“Fundamental to our profession is equitable, honest, and transparent government, and the ICMA Code of Ethics helps us to meet these expectations.

While the Code has always been my guide for personal and professional conduct, its importance was really brought home when our local district attorney entered it into evidence at trial to demonstrate my professional obligation (in conjunction with the city attorney) to report the mayor’s misconduct.

The principles on which the Code is based are foundational to the work of our profession. A periodic review of the Code’s tenets helps you refresh your understanding of those principles and how they relate to your current circumstances.”

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Sheila Ritz, senior advisor, Oregon

ICMA member since 2001

“I always kept a framed copy of the ICMA Code of Ethics hanging on the wall next to my office door as a constant reminder to myself, and everyone who came into my office, of how I needed to perform, both personally and professionally. The Code guided me through some difficult situations. When an elected official asked me to do something I was not comfortable with, I would point to the Code and explain tenet by tenet how and why I didn’t believe I should do what the individual was asking.

Always demonstrate and support an ethical culture. Do what’s best for the organization and the community… but remember, on those matters that require a council’s decision, once their decision is made, you must support it. If you don’t feel you can support their decisions, then you should consider resigning.

Consistently maintain your integrity. You set the tone for the entire organization and cannot waiver from ethical values without losing respect. Never compromise these ethical standards and have the courage to adhere to them even under political pressure to do otherwise.”


Share Your Story

In celebration of the 100th anniversary, ICMA invites members to reflect on how the Code has influenced you personally and professionally. Submit your story here.

Contact Us

ICMA encourages members seeking confidential advice on ethics issues to contact Jessica Cowles, ethics director, at or 202-962-3513. Answers to common ethics issues and questions are also available here.

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