What Are the Duties of the Vice-Mayor?

by Chip Marsden
The vice-mayor often plays important practical and ceremonial roles in local government.

The vice-mayor often plays important practical and ceremonial roles in local government.

Mayors can be found all over America in towns and cities. Sometimes they are important chief executives of local and municipal governments; other times they are primarily ceremonial figures. Many towns and cities have vice-mayors or deputy mayors. The role and selection of these officials varies widely from locality to locality.

Primary Role

Almost universally, the primary function of the vice-mayor is to serve as "acting mayor" in the mayor's absence. This absence might be the result of illness, existing commitments that prevent the mayor from being present for city business, resignation, death or impeachment.

Tie-Breaker

In some cities and localities, the vice-mayor is the presiding officer of the local governing body (such as a city council) and casts votes only when there is a tie. This is very similar to the way that the vice president of the United States casts tie-breaker votes in the Senate.

Local Cabinet

In New York City and other large metropolitan governments, several deputy mayors serve at the pleasure of the mayor and deal with specific elements of the local government. One such deputy mayor has the title of Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. This system can be compared to the presidential Cabinet system at the federal level.

Ceremonial Responsibilities

In many communities, the vice-mayor is a ceremonial figurehead of the local government. He often uses his positions to lend an official government presence to local and city events that the mayor is unable to attend, and may be routinely asked to do so.

Selection of Vice-Mayors

Vice mayors are selected in a variety of ways. By far the most common selection method in U.S. local politics is a council election. Instead of being directly elected by voters in the same way a mayor or councilman is, vice-mayors are often councilmen chosen to be the presiding officer and vice-mayor by their colleagues. This is typically done on an annual basis. Vice-mayors may also be chosen by the mayor and serve at his pleasure, or, in very rare cases, will be elected popularly.

About the Author

Based in Virginia, Chip Marsden has been a writer for more than eight years. He has covered film, politics and culture for regional newspapers and online publications. Marsden holds a B.A. in theater arts with a concentration in performance.

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