Some may think that "the people" run the show and handle the power for the local government. Citizen's preferences impact various local government decisions that are made. But there are many participants that have the power to influence the local government. Different "groups or sole persons" have more power than others. There are many types of local governments, local executives, legislatures and organizations that all contribute to the local government.
First off, there are 2 types of theories to consider when looking at "who holds the power" of the local government. The Elite Theory argues that a small group of leaders called an "elite" possesses the power and rules society. The other theory, the Pluralists Theory, says that the power is distributed among competing groups and produces societal rule. .
The Elite Theory consists of two classes of people, those who rule (small group) and those who are ruled (large group). The rulers make the rules for the masses, which have no say at all in what goes on inside the "elite". All U.S. cities are ruled by a small group of people whose members have certain interests that are related to local development and growth. These groups of people make the rules and use their power to further their own interests. This theory seems selfish in itself. .
The Pluralists Theory is a basic way of saying that "no monolithic entity makes the rules". Everyone has to compromise when decisions are being made. This means that there are many groups of people who all have a say in what happens in the local government. No sole group takes leadership to benefit just themselves. Even though a few groups have a greater portion of power due to their size or wealth, they are not the only group calling all the shots. No group has a monopoly of resources. So in other words, "the masses may acquiesce to the leaders, but they can also rise up when they are displeased". This theory is a more hopeful and ideal form of community power.