Many local governments along the Wasatch Front don't rely on city managers to run their day-to-day business but would rather look to a full-time mayor or chief administrative officer.

To the layman, the difference is apparent only in the title, but there is a world of contrast in the style of government.

Salt Lake City has Rocky Anderson as its full-time mayor, but employs a chief administrative officer. Salt Lake County, the largest local government fixture, chooses to do the same, as does Sandy.

Salt Lake City changed from a commission form of government to the strong-mayor form two decades ago and pays Anderson $95,117 a year. Over the years, mayoral activism — and some say mayoral micromanagement — has escalated.

"Both (Deedee) Corradini and Rocky (Anderson) have been very assertive in their executive functions and get involved in day-to-day functions," said Roger Cutler, city attorney since 1974.

Chief administrative officer Rocky Fluhart runs the city "on paper," Cutler said. But in reality it's Anderson who does a lot of the managing. Their respective influence is reflected in Fluhart's other title: deputy mayor.

"They're still sorting out their roles . . . and the kitchen cabinet is still evolving," Cutler said.

Salt Lake County, too, opted for a change but much more recently. It abandoned the three-member commission style of government this year in favor of a full-time mayor and nine-member County Council.

Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman makes $94,000, while her chief administrative officer David Marshall gets $118,416 a year.

Riverton Mayor Sandra Lloyd said her city uses administrators but has hired city managers in the past.

It was a mistake.

"You are never going to get a city manager who feels like an administrator has the same level of authority. It's tough. Once they have been a city manager, always a city manager."

In a city manager form of government, the city manager is the chief executive officer of the city and responsible for running municipal business. The city manager answers to the city council.

In a mayor-council form of government, it is the mayor who is the chief executive officer elected by citizens to run the city. The chief administrative officer facilitates those wishes.

"There will be problems," Lloyd said, "if you have a strong-willed mayor and an administrator who doesn't see eye to eye with you on the issues, it can be a problem."

Although the chief administrative officer has less authority than a city manager, it is entirely possible with both positions for the players to engage in a tug-of-war over authority with elected officials.

Wayne Parker, Ogden city's director of management services and a former Roy city manager, said government can struggle if roles become reversed.

"If you look at city government as a ship in the waters of the community, it is the elected officials' job to look off in the distance and decide 'this is where I want the boat to go.' It is the manager's job to steer, navigate and provide the resources to move the boat from here to there," Parker said. "It is when the manager tries to point the direction or when the council tries to steer the boat that you run into trouble."

Laurie Tanner supervises 10 departments in Logan as its director of administrative services.

Hired four years ago for the position, Tanner says Logan forged a sort of hybrid style of government there that has her tapping into the job as special-projects coordinator for the full-time mayor and as supervisor of numerous employees.

Not quite a chief of staff and not really a chief administrative officer, Tanner says she is on par with other department heads, with added responsibility for projects under Mayor Doug Thompson's discretion.

Although women do manage to get elected to mayoral posts and city council seats in Utah, they have a tougher time grabbing onto top administrative positions in government.

Among the cities surveyed in Salt Lake, Davis, Weber and Utah counties, the only female city manager who emerged was South Ogden's Linda Hamilton.

Women do hold some critical positions in government, such as Deeda Seed, who served as Mayor Anderson's chief of staff, and Murray's chief of staff D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli.

Local political observer Tim Chambless said to determine the reason for scarcity of women in government administration you look have to look no farther than history.

"It is a vestige of history that historically men have dominated these administrative posts and public offices throughout the Utah," he said.

Chambless, a political science professor at the University of Utah, said time should eventually arrest the historical pattern.

"It is my hope that a generation from now we won't be asking this question; it will be common."