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The mayor–council government system is a system of organization of local government. It is one of the two most common forms of local government in the United States and is also used in Canada. It is the one most frequently adopted in large cities, although the other form, council–manager government, is the local government form of more municipalities.
Local government in the United States refers to governmental jurisdictions below the level of the state. Most states and territories have at least two tiers of local government: counties and municipalities. In some states, counties are divided into townships. There are several different types of jurisdictions at the municipal level, including the city, town, borough, and village. The types and nature of these municipal entities vary from state to state.
The council–manager government form is one of two predominant forms of local government in the United States and Ireland, the other being the mayor–council government form. Council–manager government form also is used in county governments in the United States. The council–manager form also is used for municipal government in Canada and in Ireland, among many other countries, both for city councils and county councils.
Characterized by having a mayor who is elected by the voters, the mayor–council variant may be broken down into two main variations depending on the relationship between the legislative and executive branches, becoming a weak-mayor or a strong-mayor variation based upon the powers of the office. These forms are used principally in modern representative municipal governments in the United States, but also are used in some other countries.
In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official in a municipal government such as that of a city or a town.
A city council, town council, town board, or board of aldermen is the legislative body that governs a city, town, municipality, or local government area.
Representative democracy is a type of democracy founded on the principle of elected officials representing a group of people, as opposed to direct democracy. Nearly all modern Western-style democracies are types of representative democracies; for example, the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, France is a unitary state, and the United States is a federal republic.
In a weak-mayor system, the mayor has no formal authority outside the council; the mayor cannot directly appoint or remove officials, and lacks veto power over council votes.As such, the mayor's influence is solely based on personality in order to accomplish desired goals.
The weak-mayor form of government may be found in small towns in the United States that do not use the more popular council–manager form used in most municipalities that are not considered large or major cities, and is frequently seen in small municipalities with few or no full-time municipal employees.
The strong-mayor form of mayor–council government usually consists of an executive branch, a mayor elected by voters, and a unicameral council as the legislative branch.
The executive is the organ exercising authority in and holding responsibility for the governance of a state. The executive executes and enforces law.
In government, unicameralism is the practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber. Thus, a unicameral parliament or unicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of one chamber or house.
In the strong-mayor form the elected mayor is given almost total administrative authority and a clear, wide range of political independence, with the power to appoint and dismiss department heads without council approval and little or no public input. In this system, the strong-mayor prepares and administers the city budget, although that budget often must be approved by the council. Abuses in this form led to the development of the council–manager form of local government and its adoption widely throughout the United States.
In some strong-mayor governments, the mayor will appoint a chief administrative officer who will supervise department heads, prepare the budget, and coordinate departments. This officer is sometimes called a city manager; while the term city manager is used in the council–manager form of municipal government, the manager in the strong-mayor variant is responsible only to the mayor.
A Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) is a top-tier executive who supervises the daily operations of an organization and is ultimately responsible for its performance.
A city manager is an official appointed as the administrative manager of a city, in a council–manager form of city government. Local officials serving in this position are sometimes referred to as the chief executive officer (CEO) or chief administrative officer (CAO) in some municipalities.
Most major and large American cities use the strong-mayor form of the mayor–council system, whereas middle-sized and small American cities tend to use the council–manager system.
The administrative divisions of New York are the various units of government that provide local government services in the state of New York.
A town council, village council or rural council is a form of local government for small municipalities.
The Faulkner Act, or Optional Municipal Charter Law, provides for New Jersey municipalities to adopt a council–manager government.
City commission government is a form of local government in the United States. In a city commission government, voters elect a small commission, typically of five to seven members, on a plurality-at-large voting basis.
Massachusetts shares with the five other New England states a governmental structure known as the New England town. Only the southeastern third of the state has functioning county governments; in western, central, and northeastern Massachusetts, traditional county-level government was eliminated in the late 1990s. Generally speaking, there are four kinds of public school districts in Massachusetts: local schools, regional schools, vocational/technical schools, and charter schools.
The Faulkner Act, or Optional Municipal Charter Law, provides for New Jersey municipalities to adopt a mayor–council–administrator form of government.
The Optional Municipal Charter Law or Faulkner Act provides New Jersey municipalities with a variety of models of local government. This legislation is called the Faulkner Act in honor of the late Bayard H. Faulkner, former mayor of Montclair, New Jersey and chairman of the Commission on Municipal Government.
The government of the U.S. State of Oklahoma, established by the Oklahoma Constitution, is a republican democracy modeled after the federal government of the United States. The state government has three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial. Through a system of separation of powers or "checks and balances," each of these branches has some authority to act on its own, some authority to regulate the other two branches, and has some of its own authority, in turn, regulated by the other branches.
Local government in New Jersey is composed of counties and municipalities. Local jurisdictions are simpler in New Jersey than in other states because every square foot of the state is part of exactly one municipality; each of the 565 municipalities is in exactly one county; and each of the 21 counties has more than one municipality. New Jersey has no unincorporated areas, independent cities, or consolidated city-counties.
Local government in Pennsylvania is government below the state level in Pennsylvania. There are six types of local governments listed in the Pennsylvania Constitution: county, township, borough, town, city, and school district. All of Pennsylvania is included in one of the state's 67 counties, which are in total subdivided into 2,561 municipalities. There are currently no independent cities or unincorporated territories within Pennsylvania.
In the United States, there are several distinct types of mayors, depending on the system of local government.
The following table lists the individuals who served as mayor of Hartford, Connecticut, their political party affiliations, and their dates in office, as well as other information.