What's it like to serve on City Council?
Council/manager form of government
Lakewood has a council/manager form of government, where the elected City Council sets policy and direction, and hires a professional city manager who puts council’s policies into action by directing and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the city’s various departments and staff members.
The elected body consists of the mayor and 10 City Council members, all of whom have equal authority – though the mayor presides over the meetings. Neither the mayor nor any member of City Council is involved in the daily operations of the city. City Council functions as the policy making body and does not manage city departments or staff.
Two council members are elected from each of the city's five geographical wards, while the mayor is elected at-large by voters across the city. City Council sets the policies for the operation of the city government by providing direction to the city manager, holding public hearings, passing ordinances that become law in the City Code and approving resolutions that could include contracts, intergovernmental agreements or other city business.
Residents elected to serve the community
The 11 members of City Council are elected to serve the community. As Lakewood residents just like you, they juggle responsibilities for homes, families, jobs and friends, maneuver the same traffic on the way to the same grocery stores, enjoy Lakewood’s parks and have the same worries about the community.
Council members can have a positive impact on Lakewood’s quality of life, tackling issues like transportation, growth and land use, public health and safety, improving recreation, sustainability and keeping the local economy healthy. They work to find solutions while maintaining a vision of where the community is headed in the future.
A demanding job
Quite frankly, the position of a City Council member is a demanding one. It requires dedicating a significant portion of time and attention to fulfill the duties. It is important to understand the time commitments and their impact on family and work time.
Council members do receive some compensation, but it is not considered a full-time job under the City Charter.
Responsibilities of being on City Council…
- Attend regular City Council meetings and study sessions nearly every Monday night. Meetings usually begin at 7 p.m., sometimes as early as 5:30 p.m., and can last until 10 p.m. or later. Spend several hours each week reviewing and researching background materials and information to prepare for these meetings.
- Attend other meetings and community events such as boards and commissions, council planning sessions, research field trips, trainings or conferences away from Lakewood and ribbon-cuttings or grand openings for Lakewood businesses, all of which can occupy additional weeknights, daytime hours or weekends.
- Consult with fellow council members whether to plan and host regular, monthly, informal ward meetings with residents to share information and hear directly from them.
- Participate in local, regional and national organizations and meetings.
Listen and respond to residents
City Council members represent all the residents of their ward, and it is important to listen to all their viewpoints. Residents often contact council members via phone, text or email throughout the day to seek information or share concerns about city services and programs, with the expectation that they will get a response.
Council member work to provide answers to residents, but more detailed or complicated questions are often referred to staff to provide follow-up information for the resident and council member. Residents also can submit questions or concerns 24/7 directly via the Request Lakewood customer service hub.
An important responsibility of City Council is reviewing and approving the annual city budget, appropriating funds from the city’s revenues to pay for city programs and services.
City Council appoints the city manager, city attorney, the Municipal Court judges and the various members of Lakewood’s boards and commissions.