Common Council

As established by Local Law No. 13,
The charter of the City of Syracuse – 1960
The Common Council is the legislative branch of city government.
No law can be passed without Council approval.

Common Council Role and Duties 

  • The Common Council consists of a president and nine members.
  • The president and 4 members are elected at-large (or city-wide representatives) for a term of 4 years
  • 5 members of the council are elected by districts1,2 and serve a 2 year term;
  • Term limits prohibit the president or a councilor from serving more than 8 years in the same seat;
  • A councilor must be a citizen of the United States and a qualified elector of the city.
Public Responsibilities
  • Council meetings are open to the public;
  • The council considers and adopts the annual budget;
  • Council records are maintained by the City Clerk;
  • All council records are open to public inspection during normal business hours.

Council districts are based on population figures received from the federal decennial census
Each district shall contain not less than 17 nor more than 23 percent of the population;

How Law is Enacted

  1. Your Common Councilor gets an idea for an ordinance from constituents, organized groups, or based upon local or state needs. An ordinance can be a new law or an amendment or repeal of an existing law.

  2. After deciding to sponsor a law, the Councilor submits it to the City Clerk’s office where the language is formalized and placed on the Agenda for the next regularly scheduled council meeting.

  3. The full body of the council considers the new legislation during its study session.  If additional questions or concerns are expressed, a committee meeting is scheduled.

  4. During the committee meeting, the sponsor of the legislation explains and defends the proposal.

  5. After review, the legislation is voted on at the next regularly scheduled common council meeting.

  6. Once the Council adopts an ordinance, it shall be signed by the President and presented to the Mayor by the City Clerk.

  7. The Mayor may either approve or disapprove the ordinance. If approved, it becomes law; if disapproved, the Council has thirty days to reconsider. Upon reconsideration, if two-thirds of all the members of the council vote to pass the ordinance, or local law, it shall take effect.

All ordinances, which have been introduced or have become law, shall immediately be deposited in the official archives of the City Clerk, and recorded in the official book and signed by the President of the Council.

Initiatives & Programs