Last updated April 27, 2012
The D.C. City Council is the legislative arm of
the city government. It consists of thirteen members. Eight members are elected in ward
elections to represent the eight city wards. Four other members are elected city-wide as
at-large councilmembers. The thirteenth member, the Chairman, is also elected at large.
All councilmembers are elected for four-year terms. The terms are staggered, so that half
of the ward councilmembers and two of the at-large councilmembers are elected in every
even-year general election. The Council Chairman and the Mayor are elected to four year
terms in the same election cycle.
The city charter sets up an election system under which only one
candidate from each party can run for the two at-large seats that are elected at each
general election. In practice, this has meant that all of the Councilmembers except two
have always been Democrats. Two may not be members of the majority party in practice, this
has meant that the Council has always had eleven Democrats and two other members. These
Councilmembers have been independents, former Democrats who ran as
independents, and members of the Republican and Statehood parties.
Two independent studies of the City Councils operations are
available on the DC Watch web site: the Appleseed Centers
February 1999 report on Operational Reform of the District of Columbia Council: A
Fix-It Yourself Manual, and the National Conference of State
Legislatures January 1999, Report to the Council of the District of
Columbia: Building a Stronger, More Effective Institution.
On December 19, 2000, Chairman Linda Cropp proposed
reorganization of Council committees for Council period 14.
The transition plans of Council Chairman Elect
Vincent C. Gray, November 9, 2006, and his
inaugural address, January 3, 2007.
October 2007, the city council announced the establishment of the Office of Policy Analysis
and the Policy Advisory Council to the Office.
City Council also has its own Office of the Budget.
City Council addressed ethics issues and implemented a code of conduct in September