‘No politics’ is key part of administrators’ code

by Linda Kutchenriter President, Wisconsin City/ County Management Association

Local governments, according to a September 2013 Gallop poll, capture the most public trust and confidence among all levels of government. Professional management, coupled with a commitment to ethical practices, is one factor explaining why Gallop respondents register such satisfaction. Professional local government managers bring shared commitment and vision to our communities.working closely with elected officials and residents to build communities we’re proud to call home. Like the CEO of a corporation, a professional local government manager brings the best practices in financial management, administration, and personnel practices to running the business of government.

As nonpartisan, nonpolitical public servants, professional local government managers work behind the scenes for the good of their communities partnering with elected officials, business and community leaders, and their staff of public servants. Because these managers do their jobs so well, many Americans are unaware they exist, yet their presence is crucial to delivering services that are more efficient than governments without these trained professionals. (IBM Global Business Services study, 2011)

As members of the Wisconsin City/County Management Association (WCMA) and International City/County Management Association (ICMA), members pledge to follow the principles and guidelines of the ICMA Code of Ethics.

Adopted in 1924, the ICMA Code of Ethics defined the principles that today serve as the foundation for the local government management profession and set the standard for excellence. Leadership in a management structure committed to equity, transparency, integrity, stewardship of public resources, political neutrality, and respect for the rights and responsibility of elected officials and residents strengthens democratic local governance. WCMA and ICMA members pledge to uphold these principles in their conduct and decisions in order to merit the trust of the public, elected officials, and staff they serve. As a condition of membership, WCMA and ICMA members agree to submit to a peer-to-peer review under established enforcement procedures should there be an allegation of unethical conduct.

One of the primary principles of the code of ethics declares that members shall refrain from all political activities which undermine public confidence in professional administrators and refrain from participation in the election of the members of the employing legislative body. Guidelines for this tenet state that members shall not run for elected office or become involved in political activities related to running for elected office, or accept appointment to an elected office. They shall not seek political endorsements, financial contributions or engage in other campaign activities.

In an ever changing political environment, the Wisconsin City/County Management Association strives to keep our members, as well as the public, aware of the high standards set for our organization. Professional managers offer the leadership, transparency, accountability, ethics and efficiency that make government work for the people. If you would like more information on the ICMA Code of Ethics, visit our website at www.wcma-wi.org.

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