Born out of the progressive reform movement at the beginning of the 20th century, the council-manager system of local government is one of the few original American contributions to political theory. In 1908, Staunton, VA instituted the first position legally defining, by ordinance, the board authority and responsibility associated with today’s professional local government manager. Sumter, SC was the first city to adopt a charter incorporating the basic principles of council-manager in 1929. Westmount, Quebec, introduced the form to Canada in 1913. The first large city to adopt the plan was Dayton, OH, in 1914. The first counties to adopt it is in the 1930s were Arlington County,VA and Durham County and Robeson County, NC.
Since its establishment, the council-manager form has become the most popular form of government in the United State in communities with populations of 5,000 or greater. The form is also popular in Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Honduras, Chile and Brazil. For more than 94 years, council-manager government has responded to the changing needs of citizens and their communities.