|dc.description.abstract||It has been acknowledges for a long time that city and county managers play a prominent role in policy making. It can be no other way. Managers set the council’s agenda, for example, by calling the governing body’s attention infrastructure issues of which it would not otherwise be aware. They develop alternatives for the council, and they make policy recommendations. This is expected of them, and they do it well.
These administrative activities support the councils policy-making responsibility and its problem-solving capacity. Over time, local government professionals have effectively integrated this influential policy role with the sober, analytical, politically neutral foundation of their profession. But what happens when the manager is expected simultaneously to lead staff in an objective analysis of a complex project and to build political support for it?
A case-study format is ideally suited to describing both the context and some ways of thinking about the role confusions produced when a local government manager is thrust into a political role. To address the question “What happens to a politically neutral chief administrative officer when expected to act politically?” I analyzed scholarly research, examined documents, read newspaper accounts, and interviewed several public servants, including Dennis Hays, chief administrative officer of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas (KCK).||