Traveling on the Frontrunner north or south takes one through multiple municipalities, allowing comparative views from the rails—sometimes cramped and weed-covered, other times expansive and manicured. Only a municipal councilor likely would also notice that the succession of communities represents a succession of different forms of municipal government as well. The brief ride between Provo and Orem is illustrative. Provo’s government exemplifies the Council-Mayor form of government and Orem’s the Council-Manager form, two of the five forms defined by the Utah League of Cities and Towns.
What is often perceived as a seamless visual transition between Orem and Provo belies their differences in governmental structure and in the consequences for administrative dynamics and policy making within each city. My observations here are of Provo following nearly four years as a member of its Municipal Council.