The first governing structure in Phoenix was a Board of Trustees, with members appointed by the Territorial Governor. This board would set policy for Phoenix until 1881 when the city began operating under a Council-Manager form of government. In 1890, an elected mayor was introduced to the Council-Manager system which then became known as Mayor and Council. In 1992, this system changed again to adopt the current Council-Manager style that is used today. The City Manager manages the day-to-day operations of city government while the Mayor and City Council provide guidance through policy development and legislation.
Mayor and Council The Mayor is the Chief Executive Officer of the City. A presiding officer, elected by citizens, who holds a seat on the Phoenix City Council. Mayoral duties include: preparing the budget; submitting official reports to other governmental entities; representing the city at ceremonial occasions; and overseeing all liaison with federal, state and local governments, as well as private agencies concerned with city interests. In short, he presides over council meetings and represents Phoenix at special events and ceremonies. Also manages community outreach teams which include community liaisons in each district who are available to help residents connect with City Hall services or find out what their neighborhood needs that the City can help provide through existing resources or upcoming projects. The Mayor works closely with various Council Committees and City Boards which are composed of citizens interested in particular issues or problem areas.
Council Members represent the Council as a whole, not just their district or special interest group. All seven members are elected city wide to represent citizens. The council member receiving the most votes is designated the Vice Mayor for one year taking over as Mayor when the position is vacant, whether it be due to death, sickness, resignation or removal from office. Council responsibilities include: passing laws (ordinances); adopting budgets; making policy decisions; dealing with land use planning; and authorizing other actions impacting upon the lives of all Phoenix residents.
Today, Phoenix has a “city council-city manager” form of government. The Mayor and City Council members are elected at large. The seven city council members approve or reject budgets, levy taxes, make laws, establish policies for the executive branch (including mayoral appointments) to implement and establish their own committee structure.
Additionally, the city of Phoenix has 15 neighborhood districts, each represented by a district council. The councils have advisory capacity on city issues that affect or would relate to their communities and act as liaisons between residents and government.
There are five members on City Council including Mayor, Council President, District 1 Councilperson, District 2 Councilperson, and District 3 Council person appointed from their respective geographical areas within Phoenix’s borders. Each member of city council represents approximately 147,000 people in total and that’s a big number of people to be responsible for.
Every city council member takes their role very serious and spends quite a bit of time meeting with the public and in City Hall, going over budgets, reviewing proposed ordinances and getting out into the community as much as possible. It’s not like they are just sitting around drinking coffee all day while watching “Judge Judy,” there is work to be done!