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Chapter Overview

The title of this chapter draws an important distinction in our discussion of executive leadership in state and local government; unfortunately, it is a distinction that provides less clarity than one would expect. In 18th- and 19th-century state and local government, the "executive" was generally thought of in terms of elected leadership; a governor, a state attorney general, a mayor, or perhaps even a sheriff came readily to mind. The executive, therefore, was tied directly to elective office and was often directly accountable to the people via the voting mechanism. In the mid-to-late 19th and early 20th centuries, however, a major change began to take place in this area. The rise of what is called Progressivism led to a concerted nationwide effort to clean up politics, particularly at the municipal level and over time at the state level, as well. The national government was also affected by Progressive reforms, although perhaps not in the same way or to the same degree this social movement transformed state and local government. The chapter informs the reader about the unique qualities of the political and career administrative executive aspects of state and local government. Understanding the offices, both their similarities and their differences, will help the reader gain a better understanding of how state and local executives operate across the country and in the reader's own state and local community.

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