What is a Mayor?

A mayor is an elected official who serves as the head of a city or town government. Mayors are responsible for overseeing the administration of local government, managing the city's budget, and ensuring that municipal services such as public safety, transportation, and utilities are provided to residents. They also serve as ambassadors for their cities, promoting economic development and attracting investment to the area. In many cities, the mayor has the power to veto legislation passed by the city council and to appoint city officials such as department heads and members of advisory boards.

The role of the mayor can vary depending on the size and structure of the city government. In larger cities, the mayor may work with a team of other elected officials such as council members and commissioners to make decisions and set policies for the city. In smaller towns, the mayor may have more direct involvement in day-to-day operations of the city. Ultimately, the mayor's job is to represent the interests of the city's residents and to work towards improving the quality of life for all who live and work there.

What does a Mayor do?

A mayor doing some administrative work.

Mayors have the power to make decisions that affect the lives of people in their communities, and they are accountable to the voters for their actions. They work closely with city council members, city managers, and other government officials to ensure the smooth running of the city. Mayors can also be important advocates for their cities, promoting them as great places to live, work, and visit.

Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of a mayor in the United States can vary depending on the size and type of municipality they represent. However, there are several common responsibilities and duties that mayors typically have, including:

  • Executive powers: The mayor serves as the chief executive officer of the municipality and is responsible for implementing and enforcing laws, policies, and regulations. They may also have the power to make appointments and remove department heads and other officials. The mayor oversees the day-to-day operations of city government and ensures that municipal services are delivered efficiently and effectively.
  • Legislative powers: The mayor may have a role in the legislative process, presiding over meetings of the city council or board of aldermen, and may have the power to veto or approve laws and ordinances passed by the council. In some cases, the mayor may also have the power to introduce legislation and propose policy initiatives.
  • Budget and financial management: The mayor is responsible for preparing and presenting the city's budget, which outlines how city funds will be allocated and spent over the coming year. The mayor works with other city officials to identify priorities and ensure that the budget reflects the needs and goals of the community. The mayor also oversees the collection of taxes and other revenue sources and manages the city's finances, including investments and debt.
  • Economic development: The mayor plays a key role in promoting economic growth and development within the city. They may work to attract new businesses and industries to the area, create programs that support local entrepreneurs and small businesses, and identify opportunities for job creation and workforce development. The mayor may also work with other officials and stakeholders to address issues related to housing, transportation, and infrastructure that can impact economic development.
  • Public safety: The mayor is responsible for ensuring public safety within the city. This includes overseeing the police and fire departments and coordinating emergency response efforts. The mayor may work to develop strategies to reduce crime and improve community safety, as well as respond to emergencies and natural disasters that threaten public safety.
  • Infrastructure and public works: The mayor is responsible for overseeing the development and maintenance of public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water and sewage systems, and public buildings. The mayor works with other officials and stakeholders to identify infrastructure needs, develop plans to address those needs, and secure funding for projects. The mayor may also be involved in environmental initiatives and efforts to promote sustainable development.
  • Public relations and communication: The mayor serves as the public face of the city and is responsible for communicating with the media and the public about city policies, initiatives, and events. The mayor may also work to promote the city's image and reputation, both locally and nationally, and may engage with other officials and stakeholders to advance the city's interests.
  • Civic engagement and community building: The mayor may work to build bridges between different communities within the city and promote civic engagement and participation in local government. This may include working with community groups and organizations, hosting public forums and town hall meetings, and encouraging participation in local elections and other civic activities.
  • Intergovernmental relations: The mayor may work closely with state and federal officials to secure funding and resources for the city, and to coordinate efforts on issues of regional or national importance. The mayor may also engage with other municipalities and regional organizations to advance common goals and address shared challenges.

Types of Mayors
In the United States, the types of mayors vary depending on the city and state, but generally fall into the following categories:

  • Strong Mayor: This type of mayor has significant power over the city's budget, hiring and firing decisions, and can veto city council decisions. This type of mayor is commonly found in larger cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
  • Weak Mayor: This type of mayor has limited power and is typically more of a figurehead. They may still have ceremonial duties and represent the city, but do not have as much decision-making authority as a strong mayor. This type of mayor is commonly found in smaller cities and towns.
  • Council-Manager: In this system, the city is run by a professional city manager who is appointed by the city council. The mayor serves as the presiding officer of the city council and has limited powers. This type of mayor is commonly found in mid-sized cities like Boulder, Colorado and Dayton, Ohio.
  • Strong Council-Weak Mayor: In this system, the city council has more power than the mayor. The mayor is largely ceremonial and has limited powers. This type of mayor is commonly found in cities like Boston and New Orleans.
  • Elected Executive Mayor: This type of mayor is elected directly by the voters and has significant power over the city's budget and decision-making. This type of mayor is commonly found in cities like San Francisco and Seattle.
  • City Commission: In this system, the city is run by a group of elected commissioners who collectively make decisions for the city. There is typically not a single mayor in this system. This type of government is commonly found in smaller cities like Key West, Florida and Portland, Maine.

Are you suited to be a mayor?

Mayors have distinct personalities. They tend to be enterprising individuals, which means they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic. They are dominant, persuasive, and motivational. Some of them are also artistic, meaning they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if mayor is one of your top career matches.

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What is the workplace of a Mayor like?

The workplace of a mayor can vary depending on the size and structure of the city. Mayors of larger cities typically have their own office within city hall or a separate building designated for the mayor's office. This office is often staffed with assistants and support staff who help the mayor manage their schedule, communicate with constituents, and carry out their duties.

Mayors in smaller towns and cities may not have a dedicated office, but instead work out of a shared office space or even their own home. They may also hold office hours in city hall or other public locations to meet with constituents.

Regardless of the size of the city, mayors often have a busy and demanding schedule. They may attend multiple meetings each day, including city council meetings, committee meetings, and meetings with constituents and community leaders. They may also be called upon to attend public events, such as ribbon cuttings, groundbreakings, and community celebrations.

In addition to their formal duties, mayors are often tasked with addressing emergencies and crises that arise in their city, such as natural disasters, public safety incidents, and health emergencies. This can require the mayor to be on call 24/7 and work closely with other city officials and emergency responders to ensure the safety and well-being of their constituents.

Mayors are also known as:
Town Mayor