- Your Town
A look at the role a mayor plays in City government
With the Red Lodge mayoral elections around the corner, Nov. 5, the two candidates, Ed Williams and Tom Weaver, are preparing their battle lines and hoping their vision for Red Lodge is the one chosen. But is it their vision? What is a mayor’s role in city government and a town’s future?
It is surprising to realize that a mayor has little real say in how a town is governed. They are a hired entity who oversees meetings and can only recommend measures to the council. They cannot vote unless it is as a tiebreaker and can be subject to removal if the council feels the need. A city council even has the power to over ride a mayor’s veto. A mayor must even seek approval from the council for leave of absence.
As for the decision-making, it is the council that decides the course and shape the town will take; they are the legislative branch and governing body.
A mayor is the chief executive and chief administrative officer of the city, must live within city limits, must be non-partisan and hold the office for 2 years. The mayor cannot act without the council’s approval or consent.
A mayor’s powers and duties include:
1) enforcing laws, ordinances and resolutions;
2) perform duties required of him by law, charter, ordinance or resolution;
3) administer affairs of the local government;
4) carry out policies established by council;
6) report to the council on the affairs and financial condition of the city government;
7) execute bonds, notes, contacts and written obligations of the council, subject to the approval of the council;
8) report to the council as the council may require;
9) chair council meetings and may take part in discussion;
10) execute the budget adopted by the council;
11) appoint, with the consent of the council, all members of boards, except the mayor may appoint without consent of the council temporary committees established by the council.
The mayor may:
1) prepare the budget in consultation with the council and department heads;
2) appoint one or more administrative assistant to assist him in the supervision and operation of the local government, and such administrative assistants shall be answerable solely to the mayor;
3) appoint, with the consent of a majority of the council all department heads and may remove department heads with the consent of the council and appoint and remove all other city employees;
4) exercise control and supervision of all departments and boards to the degree authorized by the resolution of the council.
One final role, the mayor also needs approval from the council to appoint the City Attorney.