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Elected Officials

AN ELECTED OFFICIAL WEARS MANY HATS

Local elected officials have many responsibilities—policymaker, legislator, ambassador, and employer.

The office of mayor is the highest elected office in city government. City councilmembers are the city’s legislators, and their primary role is policymaking.

Policymaker - As policymakers, it is the council’s responsibility to identify the needs of the citizens and to formulate a plan to meet those needs. Policymaking is a complicated process but can be simplified if the city council works together as a team and sets goals for the city. It is from the city council’s vision that the administrative staff of the city takes direction and goes about its daily work. The goals of the city should be clear. There are many legal, financial, and administrative considerations to implementing the goals of the city, and without clear direction the effectiveness of the city council can be diminished. 

Legislator -  Citizens look to the city council to exercise authority to preserve and promote their health, safety, and welfare. A city council may enact ordinances and resolutions and use its governmental powers for the public good. Citizens expect their city council to provide leadership in addressing issues. It is important to show respect for your fellow councilmembers and be willing to discuss issues thoroughly to reach a consensus on the best course of action for all citizens, whatever the issue.

Ambassador -  As a member of your city council, you will be invited to participate in a variety of civic activities. These events will provide you opportunities to learn more about what citizens of your city expect from city government. While not everyone likes this type of public spotlight, it is an important part of your role as a councilmember.

Employer - An understanding of your role as an elected official is vital to your relationship with the city staff. Just as in any productive employer-employee relationship, trust and respect are important. You can learn a great deal about the city from city employees. In many cities, councilmembers come and go, but the city staff continues to serve.


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