Mayors are bestowed varying degrees of responsibility and authority across the nation, especially depending on a city's form of government.
These responsibilities may include:
Cities in the United States are sometimes characterized as having either "strong" or "weak" mayors. The term is not a judgement of effectiveness, rather it distinguishes the level of political power and administrative authority assigned to the mayor in the municipal charter. In practice, there is no sharp category that distinguishes between "weak" and "strong" mayors, but rather a continuum of authority and power along which cities are spread. However, the designation of "weak" and "strong" are useful in showing the variations in mayoral authority that exist.
Most "strong" mayors are in the mayor-council form of government, and are directly elected by citizens to that office. Most "weak" mayors are mayors in a council-manager form, and are elected from within the city council.
Characteristics of a "strong" mayor:
Characteristics of a "weak" mayor:
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DeSantis, Victor S. and Tari Renner. "City Government Structures: an Attempt at Classification" State and Local Government Review, 34(2) (Spring 2002).
Frederickson, H. George, and Gary Alan Johnson. "The Adapted American City: A Study in Institutional Dynamics." Urban Affairs Review, 36(6) (July 2001).
National League of Cities. "Choices of the Citizenry: Forms of Municipal Government." Washington, DC: National League of Cities, May 1989.
Svara, James H. "The Shifting Boundary Between Elected Officials and City Managers in Large Council-Manager Cities." Public Administration Review, 59(1) (January-February 1999).
Svara, James H. Two Decades of Continuity and Change in American City Councils. Washington, D.C.: National League of Cities, September, 2003.