Achieving public participation often is a goal for public budgeting entities, but it is difficult to accomplish in practice. This study examines three questions: How do public representatives interpret and define their democratic responsibilities? What are their insights regarding opportunities for and barriers to participatory budgeting processes? To what extent are these goals met? To address these questions, this research employs a qualitative research strategy with a case study design of a public university budgeting committee. The findings reveal that respondents (1) define their mission structurally and procedurally, (2) identify a need for ethical behavior and leadership, and (3) recognize that democratic values such as participation and efficiency are in tension with one another. Being open and inclusive comes in the form of the citizen–public administrator dialectic and requires intellectual, ethical, and practical engagement with competing democratic values.