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Boomerang Leaders

It is no secret that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find residents willing to serve as elected municipal leaders – from mayor and council members to township supervisors and commissioners. There are often too many competing demands – whether it’s professional or personal – that make municipal service a difficult choice for some.


Perhaps that’s why I’ve noticed a trend in some municipalities – boomerang leaders. These are the elected municipal officials who have served their term, taken a break, and then returned to serve again. These are the folks who have made public service a personal priority.


As an example, in one council chamber I’ve visited, there is a large plaque recognizing those who have served in the capacity of supervisor over the years. In a review of the previous twenty years, no less than three different residents choose to return to the position for additional terms. Two of them actually served three different times with gaps between their terms. This certainly shows genuine concern and dedication to this critical position in the community. It is notable that prior to the 1980s, there were members with a lengthy history showing repeated successful attempts at reelection, but as you come forward from that date, it showed that most only served one or two stints.


Certainly, this isn't unique to this municipality. You will undoubtedly find similar examples if you research your local government's history. We are fortunate that those with experience and understanding of the process can once again contribute to the successful operation of the township, borough, or city.


So if you face the challenge of finding interested residents to serve in your community, maybe consider asking one of your former elected leaders. You may just find that they are ready to “fire this thing up” and return to help lead the municipality once again. You don’t know unless you ask!


 About the Author

David L. Anthony is a member of the Keystone Municipal Solutions team of experts. He is a veteran of municipal government, having served more than 33 years in various positions of public service. Contact him at To learn more about David and the Keystone Municipal Solutions team, click here.

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