Daniel K. Whitehurst is incoming president of the Institute for Local Government. He is a former mayor of Fresno and past president of the League’s Mayors and Council Members Department. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People don’t want their public officials to be “leaders.” Marty Linsky, a faculty member at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, makes this point, and I think he’s right. Voters say they want strong leadership, but what many really want is the opposite: someone who will protect them from having to change their minds or their ways. And they often get their wish; there is no shortage of candidates who run for public office not to lead, but to be popular or important.