ILG Welcomes California’s Newly Elected Local Officials

When the November elections conclude, many California cities will welcome a number of new mayors and council members. Assuming a leadership role is not an easy task — today’s local leaders face myriad challenges. From their first day in office onward, they will be asked to balance multiple competing priorities with limited resources. To assist them, the Institute for Local Government (ILG) has developed materials aimed at getting newly elected local officials and staff up to speed on a variety of key topics (at

Local Government Basics for Those New to Public Service

Local governments provide a variety of essential services to their communities. ILG offers local officials and staff numerous articles, videos and other resources in the following areas:

  • Budgeting and finance;
  • Leadership skills;
  • Making decisions;
  • Engaging the public;
  • Media relations;
  • Working with staff;
  • When bad things happen;
  • Land use;
  • Responsibilities and powers;
  • Public trust and transparency;
  • Personnel, labor relations and pensions; and
  • Health and human services.

Featured Resources: Working With Staff

Staff is often one of the most valuable resources available to local elected officials. To support newly elected officials making the transition into office, ILG has compiled multiple resources on working with staff (at This section of the ILG website includes information on the role that local agency staff plays, the division of roles between elected officials and staff, and video interviews with Jan Perkins of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) on working with staff and the role of the chief executive.

In addition to the resources mentioned here, this section also contains information on:

  • Maximizing the success of board-chief executive relations, with tips for both parties, including communications and evaluation strategies;
  • Codes of conduct, which can facilitate collaboration and civility between individual members and the elected body as a whole. This section includes sample codes of conduct from throughout California; and
  • Encouraging innovation and smart risk-taking, with tips on how governing board members can help create a safe environment for reasonable risk-taking.

Additional Resources: Public Trust and Transparency

In California, state and federal laws create a complex set of requirements and laws that guide elected officials and agency staff in their service to their communities. This section of the website ( offers the following resources:

  • Ethics Law Principles for Public Servants outlines the types of issues and financial interests that should trigger a conversation with your agency counsel about what the law requires; and
  • The ABCs of Open Government Laws provides a plain-language explanation of what local leaders need to know about California’s transparency laws, the Brown Act and the Public Records Act.

For more information on ethics and transparency, visit

Orientation Materials for Newly Elected Officials

Are you a local agency staffer looking to help the new elected officials in your agency? In addition to your agency’s own materials (such as policies, calendars and staff rosters), ILG’s resources can help officials understand and pursue their leadership role.

Learn more at

Photo credit: Marekuliasz/

This article appears in the November 2014 issue of Western City
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