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A Mayor is the chief elected official of a city, town, township, or other local government. While the Mayor is generally considered the highest ranking political leader of a municipality, the specific powers and duties of the Mayor are determined by local charter and the form of government.
In a Mayor-Council form of government, the Mayor is elected separately from the members of the city or town council. In this form of government, the Mayor is usually the chief executive in charge of managing the municipality's day to day operations and its departments. The Mayor hires and supervises the department heads, though in some cases an administrative officer may be appointed to assist the Mayor in these duties. The Mayor develops and proposes a recommended budget for the municipality and has a substantial amount of authority in setting the agenda for council meetings. The Mayor presides over council meetings, but may or may not have a vote on the business items coming before the council. In medium to large municipalities, the Mayor in this form of government is typically a paid, full-time position.
In the Council-Manager form of government, the Mayor is the political leader of the community but has less direct authority over the day to day operations and departments of the municipality. In this form of government, the management and administrative functions are delegated to an appointed City or Town Manager. The Mayor has significant influence over the setting of the council agenda, presides over council meetings, and usually has a vote on items coming before the council. The Mayor may be elected separately from the other council members or may be the highest vote getter among the council candidates. In some cases, the council selects the mayor from among the elected council members.
In other forms of government, including Board of Selectmen, Commission, Town Meeting, or Representative Town Meeting, the chief elected official may be elected by the overall electorate or selected by another elected legislative body. The chief elected official in these cases may be referred to as President, Chairman, First Selectman, or another title.