Exploring the Importance of the City Council in Local Governance

May 9, 2023 Martha Simons
City Council

Table of Contents

When we hear the term “Local Governance”, we often consider governing bodies dealing with local matters, nothing too important. In reality, it is an important extension or manifestation of democracy that allows the people of the vicinity to make their own decisions. 

The most important aspect of the City Council is to make certain decisions, procure resources, and then ensure that the outcomes of these positive reinforcements meet the citizens. Citizens must be aware of the role and scope of the City Council to ensure that they are using the resources aptly and exercising their constitutional rights.

This essay will explore the significance of the City Council, especially in the context of local governance, its major functions, significance in the locality, relations with other governmental institutions, and challenges. 

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Functions of City Councils

The institution of the City Council plays an important role in planning and executing local governance. The process of dispensing services and benefits to the citizenry is not a simple task, as mentioned in the previous section. Based on the scope and context of the work, the functions of City Councils, like that of Kent Konseyi, have been divided into three major areas:

Legislative Functions

As the name indicates, the legislative functions of the city councils revolve around formulating and enacting local laws and regulations to provide a haven for citizens.

Executive Functions

While performing these functions, City Councils oversee or supervise the day-to-day functions of the city, including keeping tabs on local departments as well as enforcing laws.

Judicial Functions

The judicial functions of City Councils include resolving legal matters among citizens or between different local entities and people. It also has the authority to enforce penalties for the violation of local laws.

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Importance of City Councils in Local Governance

Democracy offers a promise to the citizens that they will be the ultimate source of the law. Since it is not possible for everyone to participate in the making of laws at the national level, City Councils extend this right toward citizens at a grass root level. They can participate in policy and decision-making for the betterment of their communities. In addition to this, the City Councils are responsible for overseeing all the collective work and efforts undergoing in the locality, from formulating policies to allocating resources and achieving both short and long-term goals.

Instead of relying on central institutions, communities gather around City Councils to ensure that they have all the elements of peaceful modern living.

City Council’s Relationship with Other Local Government Institutions

City Council is not the only office that is responsible for all local matters. The Mayor’s Office and other local departments that are entrusted to work for the benefit of people are also important parts of the cog. To understand the operations of these offices, we need to understand their relationship with one another.

Ideally, that is collaborative and amicable. For instance, City Council makes decisions based on the majority of the house and it is the responsibility of the Mayor’s house to carry out those decisions. Also, the City Council is responsible for the accountability and overseeing of other departments and ensuring that they are working efficiently and effectively. That’s why students and young scholars need to understand the nature of the relationship between the City Council and other local government institutions.

Challenges Facing City Councils

Even though the character and scope of City Councils are clear in local governance, it is facing extreme challenges in the contemporary world.

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Political Polarization

The topmost challenge that City Councils face is political animosity leading to a stalemate in decision-making. The lack of consensus results in ineffective steps and poor execution, or none at all.

Resource Constraints

Resources are scarce and if there are roadblocks in their allocation and procurement, then City Councils cannot work at their fullest.

Citizen Apathy

The loss of public trust in local governance leads to a poor turnout of voters, leading to poor public participation in the matters. This is the antithesis of what City Councils stand for!


To sum it all up, City Councils play a major role in dealing with local matters, from developing local laws and regulations to enacting them for the collective good. City Councils work in collaboration with local departments, such as the Mayor’s Office, and others to ensure efficiency in the operations. Nonetheless, it is facing immense internal and external challenges hindering them to perform their duties. Only by understanding its role and importance, will we be able to improve its functioning and promote representative democracy to truly meet the needs of communities.