#29 - Dr. Mandie Cantlin on building public trust in local government

PCC Local Time

May 5 2023 • 1 hr

How often do we talk about the role of communication in building trust with the public, without talking about what we mean?

My guest today, Dr. Mandie Cantlin, is manager in East Bradford Township in Chester County. She recently completed her doctorate in public administration and today we drill down on the topic of her dissertation, public trust in local government. While practitioners are in the flow everyday, feeling the heat of communication, academics are studying the impact on public trust. What we learn from one another can shape the way we see our work and the questions we form about the future of public administration.

This is the third episode in our series on building relationships between academia, local government and non-profits to create partnerships that help communities thrive.

Guest Bio

Mandie Cantlin is the Township Manager of East Bradford Township in Chester County Pennsylvania where she has worked for nearly 20 years. Before her tenure at East Bradford, she worked for Edgmont Township in Delaware County for 5 years. Mandie holds a BA in political science, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees in public administration from West Chester University. Her dissertation research work focused on the topic of building and maintaining public trust in local government.


[4:32] Why the pursuit of a Doctorate?

[8:10] Why the two worlds of academia and practitioners are so different.

[11:04] Local government has different metrics than business.

[14:15] Important to look at the larger context to recognize patterns.

[15:33] People don’t come to public meetings.

[16:45] Action research requires empathy.

[23:50] Why study the role of communication in building trust in local government?

[25:33] Bringing people into the process makes things messy, running government like a business runs the unintended risk of distancing people.

[29:35] Conflict and the way it is addressed has a relationship to trust.

[35:54] Personal integrity is a trait, not a skill.

[39:53] Tricky situations when elected officials lack ethical boundaries.

[43:33] Has your understanding of the role of manager changed since work on our dissertation?

[46:07] Research on trust helps us understand how significant a role it plays in what we do everyday.

[50:00] A conversation about transparency and what it means in real time.

[53:04] Academics and practitioners have so much to learn from one another.

[55:48] The ideal invitation.