World Mayor vote 20/21 US local government and
Mayors of largest cities

By City Mayors Research with contributions by Robert O’Connor, Nick Swift and John White



ON THIS PAGE: American mayors ||| Forms of US local government ||| Table of mayors or largest US cities |||


The best Mayors for Stronger | Fairer | Greener cities. Elect your candidate for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize and Honours. The Prize has been awarded since 2004.


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Voter turnout - an international comparison

Largest cities in the world and their mayors (2017)

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American mayorsAmerican Mayors
December 2020: There are some 19,500 municipal governments in the United States. Many small towns use the council-manager system (most counties are run this way) and those that don’t, have a weak mayor-council system. Almost all large US cities have strong mayor systems. Towns with populations of 5,000 or less (varies between states) are not allowed to incorporate and are overseen by the county government.

Mayors, and the city council, are directly elected. The length of a term and the number of term limits are in the city charter, as is the day of election. Most mayoral elections take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November to coincide with Federal elections, which take place then (as per the US Constitution), but not all municipalities do this.

Democrats control most large US cities
Following the November 2020 elections, almost three quarters of the largest US cities are governed by Democrat mayors. Republican mayors rule in 23 per cent of US cities, while some four per cent of mayors of large cities describe themselves as independent.


Forms of US local government
More than eighty per cent of American citizens now live in large cities, suburbs of cities, or towns. People’s needs – from police to sanitation, education to fire protection, housing and public transportation – are seen to, most directly, by city governments. There are, broadly speaking, three forms of it: the mayor-council form the commission form and the city or council-manager form.

In the mayor-council form, which is the oldest of the three, there is (not surprisingly) a mayor and a council consisting of a number of members, sometimes called aldermen. The structure is patterned on that of the state and federal governments. While the mayor is elected at large, the aldermen are sometimes elected, in other cases selected from wards or districts. The mayor is head of the executive branch, presiding over council meetings, appointing chiefs of departments, perhaps with the council’s approval, and is often the budgetary officer of the city. He can veto ordinances passed by the legislative branch, the council.

Two forms of mayor-council rule – the strong-mayor and the weak-mayor – have evolved, although they have the points already enumerated in common. The ‘strong mayor’ can appoint and remove heads of city departments few officials, in that scenario, are elected. He is the preparer of the budget, and has power of veto. Throughout the 1990s, the strong mayor-council form of city government was most popular in cities where the form of government has been decided by the state, and declined in popularity in home rule cities (already mentioned), where the citizens of the city have and exercise the right under state law to decide their form of municipal government.

Where the mayor is a significant policy maker, an administrator may be given responsibility for daily operations. The legislature, in general, adopts the budget and general policy positions, passes resolutions with legislation, and audits the government’s performance.

The mayor in the other kind of mayor-council city government, the ‘weak’ mayor, has more limited powers of appointment, removal and veto, and the elected officials and boards are more numerous. The council’s more extensive legal powers preclude his being a chief executive in any truly meaningful sense.

The commission form of city government in the United States combines, in one group of usually at least three, and often five or seven, officials, the executive and legislative dimensions. It is also, sometimes, called the Galveston Plan, after the town in Texas where it originated in 1901 (and which has since abandoned it). All members are elected, and each commissioner is responsible for at least one city department. One of them is the chairperson and may be called the mayor, but he or she has no extra powers. Historically the commission form is regarded as an important manifestation of the impulse in the direction of efficiency through employment of experts, but others have seen that tendency in a negative light – as a movement depriving those without any particular ‘expertise’ – the working class, in other words – of their influence.

It has also been seen as a stage in the development of the city manager or council-manager form of municipal government. Commissions whose members all have different interests but equal powers have a predictable predisposition to unresolved disagreement. Bringing in a business manager was, and has increasingly been (the commission plan has rarely been initiated since the First World War), seen as the solution. The city manager has most executive powers, including those pertaining to law enforcement and service provision. He carries out the decisions of the elected council, who decide on ordinances and policy, and he, again, produces the city budget. He is thus not elected, but hired, and has no term of office, continuing in his or her role while it meets with the requirements of the council.

Yet other forms of local government in the United States include the town meeting, the representative town meeting, the township, the borough and the village.

Town meetings are largely a phenomenon of New England states. As often as necessary, but at least once a year, a town’s registered voters meet, in open session, to elect officers, debate issues and pass laws. Practical issues such as taxes, budget and building and road construction and repair are decided. The board officers are called ‘selectmen’, board of supervisors, town council, or something similar.

The representative town meeting is very like the town meeting system, except that, while all citizens may attend meetings and take part in the debates, the right to vote belongs only to the (large) number chosen to be representatives.

In a township, there is usually a mayor and three, four or five committee members, who are elected, and who hold all legislative powers not held by the mayor. An administrator may be appointed to discharge executive functions.

A borough’s mayor and six members of council are elected, and the mayor only votes to break ties. The council is the legislature, and the mayor appoints officers. In a village, there is, usually, a board of trustees with five elected members, one of whom has mayoral powers.


Mayors of the largest American cities
City, size*
& website
Mayor
(Mr, Ms)
Elections
Profile &
Politics
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Popl: 546,000
City website
Mr. Tim Keller First: 2017; Next: 2021 Born 1977
Member of New Mexico Senate 2009-2015; Auditor of New Mexico 2015-to date
Party: Democrat
Anchorage, Alaska
Popl: 292,000
City website
Ms. Austin Quinn-Davidson Acting Mayor Born 1979
In October 2020, incumbent mayor Ethan Berkowitz resigned over an ‘inappropriate’ texting relationship with a TV reporter. Quinn-Davidson as Chair of the Anchorage Assembly took over as mayor. She is the city’s first female mayor.
Party: Democrat
Arlington, Texas
Popl: 366,000
City website
Mr. Jeff Williams Elected: May 2015; Re-elected May 2019; Next: 2021 President of major engineering firm and planning consultancy
Party: None
Atlanta, Georgia
Popl: 420,000
City website
Ms. Keisha Lance Bottoms Elected December 2017; Next 2021 Born 1970
A lawyer, who has been city councillor since 2010. Former Mayor Kasim Reed endorsed her during the election campaign. Longlisted for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize
Party: Democrat
Austin, Texas
Popl: 791,000;
City website
Mr. Stephen Adler First: 2014 Mayor since January 2015; Re-elected 2018; Next: 2022 Born 1956
Civil rights lawyer for 35 years; Longlisted for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize
Party: Democrat
Baltimore, Maryland
Popl: 621,000;
City website
Mr. Brandon Scott First: November 2020
Next: 2024
Born 1984
Degree in political science from St Mary's College; Baltimore City councillor from 2011 to 2019
Party: Democrat
Boston, Massachusetts
Popl: 618,000
City website
Mr. Marty Walsh First: 2013; Re-elected 2017; Next: 2021 Born 1967
Massachusetts House of Representatives 1997-2013
Party: Democrat
Charlotte, North Carolina
Popl: 732,000
City website
Ms. Vi Lyles First: 2017; Re-elected November 2019;
Next: 2021
Born 1953
City Council 2013-2017
Party: Democrat
Chicago, Illinois
Popl: 2,696,000
City website
Ms. Lori Lightfoot First: 2019
Next: 2023
Born 1962
President Chicago Police Board, 2015-2018
Assistant US Attorney, Northern District of Illinois, 1996-2002; Longlisted for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize
Party: Democrat
Cleveland, Ohio
Popl: 397,000;
City website
Mr. Frank Jackson First: 2005
Re-elected in 2009, 2013 and 2017
Next: 2021
Born 1946
City Council 2001-2005
Party: Democrat
Colorado Springs Colorado
Popl: 417,000
City website
Mr. John Suthers First: 2015; Re-elected 2019; Next: 2023 Born 1951
Attorney General of Colorado 2005-2015
Party: Republican
Columbus, Ohio
Popl: 788,000;
City website
Mr. Andrew Ginther First: 2015; re-elected November 2019;
Next: 2023
Born 1975
City Council member 2007-2015, Council President 2011-2015
Party: Democrat
Dallas, Texas
Popl: 1,200,000
City website
Mr. Eric Johnson First elected June 2019;
Next : 2023
Born in Dallas 1975; Degrees from Harvard and Princeton; Practised law since 2004; Member of the Texan House of Representative since 2010;
Party: Democrat
Denver, Colorado
Popl: 601,000
City website
Mr. Michael Hancock First: 2011; Re-elected June 2019; Next: 2023 Born 1969
City Council 2004-2011
Party: Democrat
Detroit, Michigan
Popl: 714,000
City website
Mr. Mike Duggan First: 2013; Re-elected 2017; Next: 2021 Born 1958
President, CEO of Detroit Medical Center 2004-2010. Deputy County Executive, Wayne County 1987-2001
Party: Democrat
El Paso, Texas
Popl: 650,000
City website
Mr. Donald Margo First: 2017
Next: 2021
Born: 1952
Texas House of Representatives 2011-2013
Party: Republican
Fort Worth, Texas
Popl: 742,000
City website
Ms. Betsy Price First: 2011
Re-elected: 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019
Next: 2021
Born 1949
Tax assessor-collector for Tarrant County, 2001-2011;
Awarded title 'Mayor of Distinction' by World Mayor 2018
Party: Republican
Fresno, California
Popl: 495,000
City website
Mr. Jerry Dyer First: November 2020
Next: 2024
Born 1964
Fresno Police Chief from 2001 to 2019
Party: Republican
Houston, Texas
Popl: 2,200,000
City website
Mr. Sylvester Turner First: December 2015; Mayor since January 2016; Re-elected November 2019;
Next: 2023
Born 1954
Lawyer
Member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1989 to 2016
Party: Democrat
Indianapolis, Indiana
Popl: 821,000
City website
Mr. Joe Hogsett First: 2015; Re-elected November 2019;
Next: 2023
Born 1956
Secretary of State of Indiana 1989-1995; US Attorney 2010-2014
Party: Democrat
Jacksonville, Florida
Popl: 823,000
City website
Mr. Lenny Curry First: 2015; Re-elected March 2019; Next: 2023 Born 1970
Accountant and business owner. Former Chairman of the Florida Republican Party
Party: Republican
Kansas City, Missouri
Popl: 460,000
City website
Mr. Quinton Lucas First: 2019; Next: 2023
Born 1984;
Studied of politics and culture of apartheid in Cape Town; Degrees from Washington and Cornell Universities;
City Council 2015-2019;
Party: Democrat
Las Vegas, Nevada
Popl: 585,000;
City website
Mrs. Carolyn Goodman First: 2010; Re-elected June 2019;
Next: 2023
Born 1939
Founder, president of Meadows School. Wife of previous mayor Oscar Goodman
Party: Independent
Long Beach, California
Popl: 462,257
City website
Mr. Robert Garcia First: 2014; Re-elected: 2018; Next 2022 Born 1977
City Council 2009-2014; Longlisted for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize
Party: Democrat
Los Angeles, California
Popl: 3,800,000
City website
Mr. Eric Garcetti First: 2013; re-elected 2017; Next: 2021 Born 1971. City council 2001-2012. Council President 2006 - 2012.
Party: Democrat
Louisville, Kentucky
Popl: 598,000
City website
Mr. Greg Fischer First: 2010; Re-elected 2014 and 2018; Next: 2022 Born 1958
Co-invented the SerVend ice/beverage dispenser. Co-founder of bCatalyst
Party: Democrat
Memphis, Tennessee
Popl: 647,000
City website
Mr. Jim Strickland First: 2015; Re-elected October 2019;
Next: 2023
Partner, Kustoff & Strickland 1998-present; City Council 2007-2015
Party: Democrat
Mesa, Arizona
Popl: 440,000
City website
Mr. John Giles First: August 2014; re-elected 2016 and 2020;
Next: 2024
Born 1969
Managed own law firm for 25 years; City Council 1996 - 2000
Party: Republican
Miami, Florida
Popl: 401,000
City website
Mr. Francis Suarez First: 2017
Next: 2021
Born 1947
City Commissioner 2009-2017
Party: Republican
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Popl: 596,000
City website
Mr. Tom Barrett First: 2003; Re-elected 2020; Next: 2024 Born 1953
US Congressman 1993-2003. Wisconsin State Senate 1989-1993; Ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Wisconsin in 2010 and 2012;
Longlisted for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize
Party: Demo
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Popl: 383,000
City website
Mr. Jacob Frey First: 2017 Next: 2021

Born 1981
City council 2014-2018
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor

Nashville, Tennessee
Popl: 602,000;
City website
Mr. John Cooper Elected 2019; Next 2023 Born 1956
BA from Harvard and MA fom Vanderbilt University
Lawyer; Worked for Lehman Brothers on Wall Street and later in real estate in Tennessee
Party: Democrat
New Orelans, Louisiana
Popl: 370,000
City website
Ms. LaToya Cantrell First: 2018
Next: 2022
Born 1972
City Council 2012-2018
Party: Democrat
New York City, New York
Popl: 8,200,000
City website
Mr. Bill de Blasio First: 2013; Re-elected 2017; Next: 2021 Born 1961
New York Public Advocate, 2009-2013. City Council 2001-2009.
Party: Democrat
Oakland, California
Popl: 391,000
City website
Ms. Libby Schaaf First: 2014; Re-elected 2018; Next: 2022 Born 1966
City Council 2011-2014. Public Affairs Director, Port of Oakland 2006-2010;
Shortlisted for 2018 World Mayor Prize
Party: Democrat
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Popl: 581,000
City website
Mr. David Holt First elected: February 2018;
Next: 2022
Born 1979
Holds a BA and a Juris Doctor
Served on the Oklahoma State Senate from 2010 to 2018
Party: Republican
Omaha, Nebraska
Popl: 410,000
City website
Ms. Jean Stothert First: 2013; Re-elected 2017; Re-elected: 2017; Next 2021 Born: 1954
Worked 12 years in nursing;
City Council 2009-2013. Millard Board of Education 1997-2009; Longlisted for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize
Party: Republican
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Popl: 1,527,000
City website
Mr. James Francis Kenney First: 2015
Mayor since January 2016; Re-elected November 2019;
Next: 2023
Born 1958
City Council 1992-2015; Attracted national attention in 2017 over the introduction of a ‘sugary drinks tax’. Longlisted for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize.
Party: Democrat
Phoenix, Arizona
Popl: 1,447,000
City website
Ms. Kate Kallego First: March 2019;
Next: 2023
Born 1981;
Degrees from Albuquerque Acadamy and Harvard; Phoenix city councillor from 2013 to 2018;
Party: Democrat
Portland, Oregon
Popl: 585,000
City website
Mr. Ted Wheeler First: 2016; Re-elected 2020;
Next: 2024
Born 1962
Oregon State Treasurer, 2010-2017
Chair of the County Commission of Multnomah County, 2007-2010; In 2020 after the killing of George Floyd, the mayor came under criticism for his response to the Black Lives Matter protest; He condemned the use of Federal Agents
Party: Democrat
Raleigh, North Carolina
Popl: 404,000
City website
Ms. Mary-Ann Baldwin First: 2019
Next: 2021
Born 1957
City Council 2007-2017
Party: Democrat
Sacramento, California
Popl: 467,000
City website
Mr. Darrell Steinberg First: 2016; Re-elected 2020;
Next: 2024
Born 1959
California Senate, 2006-2014
California State Assembly, 1998-2004
City Council, 1992-1998
Party: Democrat
San Antonio, Texas
Popl: 1,330,000
City website
Mr. Ron Nirenberg First: 2017; Re-elected 2019; Next: 2021 Born 1977
City Council 2013 to 2017; In 2019, the mayor led a charge to have a fast-food chain concession removed from San Antonio airport over the company’s opposition to same-sex marriage; Longlisted for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize.
Party: Independent
San Diego, California
Popl: 1,307,400
City website
Mr. Todd Gloria First: 2020; Next: 2024 Born 1978
Studied political science and history at the University of San Diego; Supported LGBT causes while at university; Interim mayor from 2013 to 2014; President of San Diego City Council 2012 to 2014;
Party: Democrat
San Francisco, California
Popl: 806,000
City website
Ms. London Breed First elected: June 2018; Re-elected for full term November 2019:
Next: 2023
Born 1974
BA from the University of California (1997), MA from the University of San Francisco (2012)
After her work for the San Francisco Redevelopment Commission, former mayor, Gavin Newson, appointed Ms Breed to the San Francisco Fire Commission.
In November 2012, Ms Breed was elected to the Board of Supervisors (city council) and was elected its President in 2015.
Party: Democrat
San Jose, California
Popl: 947,000
City website
Mr. Sam Liccardo First: 2014;
Re-elected: 2018;
Next: 2022
Born 1970
Studied government at Georgetown University followed by studies public policy at Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School;
City Council 2007-2014
Party: Democrat
Seattle, Washington
Popl: 610,000
City website
Ms.Jenny Durkan First 2017; Next 2021 Born: 1958
US Attorney, Western District of Washington 2009-2014
Party: Democrat
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Popl: 393,000
City website
Mr. George Theron Bynum First: 2016; Re-elected 2020; Next 2024 Born 1977
Attended Villanova University; Caused controversy when, in June 2020, he allowed a Trump rally to go ahead despite Covid-19 concerns
Party: Republican
Tucson, Arizona
Popl: 547,000
City website
Ms. Regina Romero First: 2019;
Next: 2023
Born: 1974
City Council: 2007-2019
Party: Democrat
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Popl: 439,000
City website
Mr. Robert M Dyer First: 2018; Next: 2022 Professor of government at Regent University; Physical therapist for more than 40 years;
City Council 2004 to 2018
Party: Republican
Washington, D. C.
Popl: 603,000
City website
Ms. Muriel Bowser First: 2014;
Re-elected: 2018;
Next: 2022
Born 1972
MA in Public Policy from American University School of Public Affairs;
City Council 2007-2015
Party: Democrat
Wichita, Kansas
Popl: 383,000
www.wichitagov.org
Mr. Brandon Whipple First: 2019:
Next: 2023
Born 1982
Doctorate in leadership studies from Franklin Pierce University;
Kansas House of Representatives 2013-2019; During the mayoral election was victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by Republican Party officials.
Party: Democrat

Party affiliation:
Democrat: 38
Republican: 12
Independent: 2


*All population figures come from the 2010 US Census.