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Worcester: A Strong City Government!

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Worcester is governed by a Council-manager form of government with a popularly elected mayor. A city council acts as the legislative body, and the council-appointed manager handles the traditional day-to-day chief executive functions.

City councilors can run as either a representative of a city district or as an at-large candidate. The winning at-large candidate who receives the greatest number of votes for mayor becomes the mayor (at large councilor candidates must ask to be removed from the ballot for mayor if they do not want to be listed on the mayoral ballot). As a result, voters must vote for their mayoral candidate twice, once as an at-large councilor, and once as the mayor. The mayor has no more authority than other city councilors, but is the ceremonial head of the city and chair of the city council. Currently, there are 11 councilors: 6 at-large and 5 district.

Worcester's first charter, which went into effect in 1848, established a Mayor/Bicameral form of government. Together, the two chambers - the 11-member Board of Aldermen and the 30-member Common Council - were vested with complete legislative powers. The mayor handled all administrative departments, though appointments to those departments had to be approved by the two-chamber City Council.

Seeking to replace the old outdated charter, Worcester voters in November 1947 approved of a change to Plan E municipal government. In effect from January 1949 until November 1985, this charter (as outlined in M.G.L. Chapter 43) established City Council/City Manager government. This type of governance, with modifications, has survived to the present day.

Initially, Plan E government in Worcester was organized as a 9-member council (all at-large), a ceremonial mayor elected from the council by the councilors, and a council-appointed city manager. The manager oversees the daily administration of the city, makes all appointments to city offices, and can be removed at any time by a majority vote of the Council. The mayor chairs the city council and the school committee, and does not have the power to veto any vote.

In 1983, Worcester voters again decided to change the city charter. This "Home Rule" charter (named for the method of adoption of the charter) is similar to Plan E, the major changes being to the structure of the council and the election of the mayor. The 9-member Council became 11, 6 At-Large and 1 from each city district. The mayor is chosen by popular election, but must run as an At-Large Councilor.

The City of Worcester was recognized and awarded the Massachusetts Common Cause eGovernment Award with Distinction for the entirety of the awarding years; 2006 through 2010.

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