Seattle is designated as a first-class Charter City under RCW 35.01.010, operating under a Mayor-Council form of government. The Seattle City Charter embodies the fundamental principles of the City, defines the City's powers and duties, and guarantees certain rights to the people. The City Charter also sets forth the powers and duties of the City Council. The Mayor is elected at-large (that is, by the entire city), as are two of the nine City Council members; the remaining seven are elected by district. Together the Mayor and Council are responsible for the conduct of City government. Seattle's City Attorney and Municipal Court Judges are also elected positions.
The Mayor of the City of Seattle is the chief executive officer of the City and is charged with the enforcement of City and State law, City contracts, and the maintenance of order. The Mayor directs and controls all subordinate officers of the City, unless otherwise provided for by the City Charter. The Mayor appoints heads of departments, subject to the approval of the City Council. The Mayor has the authority to veto ordinances passed by the City Council and the Council may override such vetoes by a two-thirds majority vote.
The Seattle City Council consists of nine individuals with the authority to create City policies, public regulations, and budgets in the form of ordinances. Ordinances must comply with the United States and Washington State constitutions, the general laws of the City and State, and the City Charter. The Council may also offer collective statements in the form of resolutions, which are expressions of policy or intent, not law. The Council authorizes public improvements and expenditures, provides for public safety and health, adopts regulations, levies taxes, controls the finances and property of the City, and performs many related legislative tasks.
The Council President presides over meetings of the Full Council and Council Briefings and is a voting member of the Council. The Council President is elected from among the City Councilmembers to serve a two-year term by Council vote. The Council President coordinates the work of the Council, including establishment of committees and appointment of committee chairs and members, and is the head of the Legislative Department. When the Mayor is absent from the City or incapacitated, the Council President assumes the duties and responsibilities of the Mayor.
Standing Council Committees are established by Council Resolution. The structure, membership, meeting times, and duties of standing committees are normally adopted at the beginning of a new Council President's term. Special Committees may also be established to address specific issues. A summary of current committees can be found on the City Council Committees and Agendas page.