City Cast

What Does a Mayor Actually Do?

Adrian González
Adrian González
Posted on July 19   |   Updated on July 28
Denver Mayor Mike Johnston stands at a podium to give his inauguration speech.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston gives his inauguration speech. (Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post / Getty Images)

On Monday, the city swore in its first new mayor since 2011. With Mayor Mike Johnston officially at the helm of a new Denver era, you might find yourself wondering, “What exactly does a mayor do?” Here are some key points (but you can find more in this piece from our friend and Denverite reporter Kyle Harris):

Where does the mayor stand in the hierarchy of city government?

Pretty darn high. The mayor is the chief executive of the city, which means they’re in charge of all administrative and executive functions. Yes, that includes overseeing the Chief of Police and the Sheriff.

Can the mayor create new laws?

No. While the mayor is in charge of enforcing municipal laws and can make recommendations for new legislation, the business of making new laws is up to the 13-member City Council.

What power does the mayor have over City Council?

The mayor can veto anything that is passed by City Council, but council can override a veto with a minimum of nine out of 13 members’ votes. The mayor works closely with City Council, so veto power is not often used.

Can the mayor hire or fire people?

Yes — and it’s a looong list of appointments. Aside from the folks that work directly within the mayor’s office, the top dog is responsible for nominating many positions within different city offices. Here are just a handful:

  • Denver Police Department
  • Denver Sheriff Department
  • Department of Transportation & Infrastructure
  • Department of Community Planning & Development

This segment was written by City Cast newsletter editor Adrian González

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