Roles and Responsibilities of Charlottes Local Government Leaders
Ken Brown
Charlotte Government 101

To take an active role in your local government, it is important to understand the roles and responsibilities of city leadership and elected officials. The following is a brief explainer of the function of each position.

Council-Manager Government

The mayor, city council and the city manager assume many formal and informal roles and responsibilities in Charlotte's local government structure. The formal roles are defined by local, state and federal statutes and the informal roles have been assumed due to necessity or tradition. The Council-Manager form of government generally divides these roles into two areas of responsibility. In general, the mayor and city council make policy decisions and provide direction to the city manager who implements and administers those decisions.


The mayor is the ceremonial head of the city government. The mayor presides at council meetings and guides the substance of discussion as meeting procedures. The mayor also serves as a spokesperson for the city, enabling them to summarize council policy discussions to the public and with officials from other levels of government.

The mayor also serves as a community leader and often takes the lead in identifying community problems and guiding the governing body in formulating policy.

With limited exceptions (ex. personnel decisions involving the city manager, city attorney and city clerk), the mayor generally votes only in case of a tie. However, and again with limited exceptions, the city charter provides the mayor with the power to veto certain city council actions, declare a state of emergency and sign all legal documents requiring city council approval.

In addition, the mayor generally makes one-third of the citizen appointments to the city's ad hoc and permanent boards (ex. Citizens Review Board), committees and commissions.

Mayor Pro Tempore

The mayor pro tempore, often referred to as mayor pro tem, is a member of the city council and is appointed by its peers. In the absence of the mayor, the mayor pro tem possesses all the powers of the mayor except the right to veto. While presiding over the city council, the mayor pro tem retains the right to vote on all agenda items.

In practice the mayor pro tempore is typically the at-large candidate receiving the highest percentage of votes.

City Council

The city council serves as the legislative body for Charlotte. All policy ordinances must have the council's approval before the ordinances become law. City council provides the forum in which policy proposals are deliberated, debated and finally decided. The City of Charlotte Charter also provides city council with all legislative powers and the power to employ the city manager, the city attorney and the city clerk. In addition, the city council generally makes two-thirds of the resident appointments to the city's ad hoc and permanent boards, committees and commissions.

City Manager

The city manager serves as the administrative head of the city government and serves at the pleasure of the mayor and the city council. The manager's primary concerns are providing the mayor and the city council with the support necessary to make effective policy decisions and to implement the council's decisions successfully.

The city manager is also responsible for directing and supervising all city, appointing and removing all city employees except those appointed by the council (ex. city attorney), making policy recommendations they deem expedient and preparing and submitting to the city council the annual budget, Capital Investment Plan and other reports as required by the city council.

City Attorney

The city attorney is appointed by city council and provides legal service and counsel to the mayor, council and the city manager. The city attorney attends all city council meetings, responds to questions and renders legal advice as required. The attorney represents the city in all legal proceedings, researches and prepares all city ordinances and advises of state and federal legislation deemed beneficial to the city.

City Clerk

The city clerk is also appointed by the city council and serves as the official recorder at all council meetings. The city clerk keeps a written account of all proceedings, prepares verbatim meeting minutes and maintains historical records. The clerk also provides all ordinances and resolutions approved by the city council for public access and maintains the Charlotte city code and city charter.

City documents and records, petitions and correspondence are maintained by the city clerk according to the state records retention schedule.

The clerk also administers the council's appointments to boards and commissions and maintains the council's Statement of Economic Interest form for city officials (an example of this form is included on file). The official listing of names and addresses of the mayor and city council is maintained by the clerk.