City Cast

Who Calls the Shots in Madison?

Abby Becker
Posted on September 10   |   Updated on September 12

The Mayor

The City of Madison has a mayor-council form of government in which residents elect a mayor and legislative council. The mayor and alders, who are members of the City Council (officially known as the Common Council), are nonpartisan positions.

Madison’s mayor is elected to a four-year term. As the city’s chief executive officer, they do the full-time job with a salary of $157,548.30. The mayor sets the direction for the city budget and big initiatives as well as making sure city ordinances and state laws are followed and that all city officers and employees fulfill their duties.

The mayor supervises and appoints city officers and heads of departments and makes appointments to various boards, committees, and commissions. The position presides at City Council meetings and has veto power. It takes a 2/3 vote of the council to override a mayoral veto.

City Council

The City Council is made up of 20 alders, who each represent a different district in Madison. Alders are elected to two-year terms by city residents. Alders elect two of their peers to serve as president and vice president. From transportation policies to alcohol licensing, public safety, and how taxpayer dollars are spent, the City Council is responsible for many aspects of city living.

Alders are considered part-time positions, and the position earns $14,903.72 annually. The two leadership positions earn more, with the president’s position at $18,135 and vice president at $16,077.62 annually.

Alders represent the residents of their districts and work with the mayor, other city officials and city employees to address issues in the city. They serve on city committees, communicate with their constituents and participate in creating the city’s budget.

The city approves voting boundaries every 10 years following the federal census in a process called redistricting. In Madison, a redistricting committee established the new boundaries.
Who represents you? Find out by plugging in your address here or checking out this map.

Hey Madison

Want to know what's happening in Madison? Sign up for our free newsletter, Madison Minutes. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.

The latest in Madison