The Role of the Mayor and City Council
The city of Atlanta utilizes a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city's primary legislative body while the mayor serves as the city's chief executive.
The Atlanta City Council Mission
The City Council is the chief policy-making body for the City of Atlanta. The Council’s mission is to ensure that Atlanta is led by a groundbreaking, strong, and capable group of leaders that work for the good of all citizens across the city. As a legislative body, the council’s main role is to make laws. In addition, the Council has oversight of multiple agencies, boards, and commissions. The Atlanta City Council is comprised of 15 members and is led by Council President Felicia A. Moore. Each member of the Atlanta City Council tirelessly works to improve the lives of Atlanta’s citizens. Together, they work to ensure safer and cleaner streets, bolster Atlanta’s economy, and institute many community-based programs. Working hand in hand with Atlanta’s mayor and the members of the executive branch, the Council plays a key part in the budget process and financial well-being of Atlanta.
Making Laws for the City of Atlanta/How City Council Works
As the legislative branch, the Council is responsible for the creation of laws enacted to run the city government. Legislation can be introduced in two ways. The first way is that it be introduced on the floor of Council by a Councilmember. This is known as a personal paper. The other way is that the legislation can come through a committee. Here in the City of Atlanta, legislation takes two forms -- ordinances and resolutions. An ordinance establishes a permanent rule of government. Every official act of the Council, operating with force and effect of law, must be an ordinance. Ordinances must be read before full Council at two regular meetings. Resolutions express intent or support of various projects and enterprises or establish legislative policy of a general nature. Resolutions, unlike ordinances, need be read only once and can be introduced and adopted at the same meeting. In some cases, the Council is required by law to hold a public hearing and must notify the public about the hearing.
In addition to legislation, the Atlanta City Council works hard to ensure that city government works for its citizens. Through the various Council Committees, the council assesses various government programs and agencies. Each year, the Council is in charge of holding budget hearings in which the City’s budget, recommended by the Mayor, is strictly reviewed prior to being voted on by the Council.
The government of Atlanta is composed of a mayor, a body of one councilmember from each of 12 districts, a City Council President, and three at-large councilmembers.
The entire slate of city officials is elected for four-year terms in off-year elections (2013, 2017, 2021, etc.)
To qualify for an at-large council seat, candidates must reside in one of the four districts they represent; however, like the mayor, and Council President, the three at-large council members are elected by the city at-large (citywide).