With the great variation from state to state, there are multiple terms used to identify persons elected to municipal office. The chief-elected official is commonly called the mayor. The mayor may be elected directly or appointed by an elected council, depending on the city's form of government and authority given to the mayor.
The city council is an elected body of legislators who govern the municipality. Depending upon state law and the muncipal government charter, there are often other elected positions, including those such as the city clerk or chief of police.
Although voters in the majority of cities (76 percent) elect the mayor or council president directly, there is variation by population, geographic division and form of government. For example, all cities with a population of 250,000 or above vote directly for the mayor or council president. Almost half of New England cities select the mayor from within the council. Nearly all cities with mayor-council form of government directly elect the mayor, while two-thirds of cities with a council-manager system directly elect the mayor while the remaining third selects the mayor from within the council.