A city councilman is a person who is elected to office within a certain area of a town or city and helps make decisions that impact said municipality. Generally, he is part of a council ranging from a few individuals to dozens of elected officials, depending on the location and size of the city or township. While serving on the city council, a councilman works to establish the parameters of local government. Usually, a city councilman acts as a member of the legislative branch, creating laws and mandates that need to be approved by the city's mayor. The members of the body both introduce and vote on certain aspects of a city's needs and how to pay for them.
The first thing a city councilman must do in order to obtain the job is stand for election by a constituency. This constituency is usually divided into a series of wards within the city. The city is segmented into different sections, each with a similar population count. Depending on local ordinances, an election is held with various candidates and a winner is determined on voting day. The city councilman then takes his position on the city council with the elected officials from other wards.
Some cities provide for an equal relationship between the city council and the mayor in terms of legislation and voting rights. This means that the mayor and city council work together as if the executive and legislative branches were merged, in which case the mayor is essentially the chairman of the council. Other cities make the mayor a chief executive that maintains veto authority over the council. In these cases, the mayor and the city council often find themselves in disagreement over policy. This means that the city councilman needs to work with other members in order to accomplish goals.
A city councilman is responsible for a large variety of duties necessary for the continued function of the municipality. The most prevalent of these responsibilities is urban planning and zoning. This means that the councilman must work to determine the continued economic development of the community, how public works projects are handled and where parks on publicly-owned lands will go. A city councilman also must perform necessary functions in terms of establishing a budget, accounting for tax collections and how to hire the required staff for city functions, most notably fire and police services. He is also responsible, with the mayor, to ultimately enforce municipal, state and federal laws when they impact the city and its residents.