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Mayor-council government is one of the four forms of government in Massachusetts. At present, 47 municipalities have a mayor-council government. Three of these cities have a city manager in addition to a mayor and council (Cambridge, Lowell, and Worcester).

Mayor-council governments typically feature an elected executive officer called the mayor and an elected legislative body called the city council.


Council size may range from seven to fifteen elected members. 

Mayor-council governments fall into two categories: a strong mayor-council or a weak mayor-council. The terms "strong" or "weak" reflect the degree of political power assigned to the mayor.

The National League of Cities (NCL) lists the following characteristics as those of a "strong" mayor:

  • is the chief executive officer

  • directs the administrative structure, appoints and removes department heads

  • has veto power

  • oversees daily operations

In contrast, the NCL lists the following characteristics as those of a "weak" mayor:

  • is not the chief executive and has limited power or no veto power​

  • the city council has the power to prevent the mayor from effectively doing their job

  • administrative boards and commissions may operate without oversight from the city government


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