Participation by local governmental officials is not given the same attention in the literature as that of citizens, publics, technical experts, or stakeholders. Yet, local governments are often a keystone to successfully implementing and enforcing coastal management policies. Qualitative analysis of open-ended interviews with local government officials from three national estuary program applications in New England revealed factors related to nine themes that shaped decisions to participate or not. Three categories of factors help to clarify the different types of influence agencies have over local government officials' decisions about whether or not to participate: factors associated with the character of individuals, with the context, and with the process. This taxonomy helps to clarify the kinds of opportunities available to project leadership to influence local government officials toward participating in regional coastal management processes. An important finding is that project staff should listen and learn about the concerns of local government officials and then create a process that accommodates and overcomes barriers to their participation.