Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about City Government

Think of a concern that you have about your community.

  • Is there a problem in your neighborhood such as speeding or graffiti?
  • Do you wonder what activities are out there for kids to do after school?
  • Do you want to know what recreation classes at available at your neighborhood center?
  • Is a new park needed in your part of the city?
  • Are you wondering what is being done about homelessness?
  • Do the potholes on your street need repair?
  • Are there questions about our city's operations that you want answers to?

Where do you go? Who do you talk to?
You can:

  1. Use the Tucson311 app
  2. Submit a Constituent Contact Form
  3. Contact your Ward Representative

The City of Tucson is divided into six wards.
Each ward is represented by one Council Member. Together with the Mayor, the Council Members form the Tucson City Council.

Tucson City Council helps address concerns that you may have about your neighborhood, your city, and the services provided by your local city government.

Read these "Frequently Asked Questions" to learn more about how the City of Tucson operates.

How does the City of Tucson operate?

The City of Tucson is a Council-Manager form of government. The legislative body is comprised of the Mayor and six Council Members who are elected at-large. The legislative body establishes the policies for the city.

Once policies are set by the Mayor and Council, it is the job of the City Manager, his staff, and the city department directors to implement these policies as the executive body. The City Manager is selected by the Mayor and Council and is responsible for hiring all of the city department directors.

Find more info about the City Manager

The city attorney, the city clerk, and the city magistrates are also appointed by Mayor and Council. The magistrates are the judicial body in the City of Tucson.

See the Tucson City Court pages.

How are the Mayor and the Council Members elected?

Council Members are nominated by the ward they wish to represent and are elected to the city council at-large.

The Mayor is elected by the voters at-large.

The Mayor and Council Members for Wards 1, 2, and 4 are elected in the same year, while Wards 3, 5, and 6 elect their Council Members in the same year.

Elections occur every four years and the Mayor and Council Members serve four-year terms. There are no term limits for these elected officials.

See Elections Information for more facts on the city's election process.

What are the duties of the Mayor?

The Mayor has several duties as the top elected official for the City of Tucson. Some of these duties are official and other duties are ceremonial.

  Official Duties of the Mayor:

  • Assists citizens with addressing problems, concerns, and information requests.
  • Presides over city council meetings and votes on issues that come before the City Council for consideration.
  • Initiates community-wide action regarding important issues.
  • Communicates and works with other policy-making bodies  to ensure that Tucson's concerns are heard at the state and national levels.
  • Delivers the annual "State of the City Address" to the community to analyze Tucson's economy, accomplishments, and future direction.
  • Serves as a member on Mayor and Council Subcommittees and appoints the chair of the different subcommittees.
  • Sits on the boards and committees of community organizations to implement plans affecting Tucson.
  • Along with the city council, appoints the City Manager.

   Ceremonial Duties of the Mayor:

  • Promotes the City of Tucson and serves as the City of Tucson's ambassador to visitors, dignitaries, conferences, and annual community events.
  • Participates in lectures, summits, ribbon cuttings, ground breakings, speaking engagements, business tours, and school visits throughout the community.
  • Issues proclamations, copper letters, certificates, and awards for special occasions, notable calendar events, and distinguished individuals.

What are the duties of the City Council?

  • Enacts ordinances, sets policies, and develops an annual Legislative Agenda for the City of Tucson.
  • Oversees the city budget and capital improvements program.
  • Holds weekly council meetings to address issues and concerns in the community.
  • Responds to constituents' concerns at neighborhood meetings, through written correspondence, and telephone communication, and staff assistance.
  • Serves on Mayor and Council Subcommittees to deal with specific issues such as public safety, youth and family issues, and community services. A subcommittee is composed of three Council Members, including the Mayor.

What is the Legislative Agenda?

There are some issues with which Mayor and Council must approach a higher form of government, such as the Arizona State Legislature or Congress, to get resolved. Consequently, Mayor and Council form a Legislative Agenda to advocate solutions for local problems. During the legislative session, the Mayor and Council and staff work diligently to urge the Legislature and Congress to solve these problems and protect the interests of local citizens.

Who is my council representative?

The neighborhood you live in within the City of Tucson limits determines your ward and your council representative. Use the City Ward Map to locate your ward and your council representative.

How do I contact the Mayor or my Council Member?

You may contact the Council Member representing your ward or the Mayor by calling their office or writing a letter. In a brief letter, describe the problem or issue, provide your first and last name, a mailing address, and a daytime telephone number. You may be able to schedule a meeting with your Council Member, the Mayor, or their aides to talk with them about the matter. Staff will be asked to research the matter to provide a response.

If you know that there are others who share your concern, they may call or write letters to these elected officials as well. For a complete listing of the city's elected officials and the addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and fax numbers of the Mayor and Council offices, see the Mayor and Council web page.

The Mayor and each Council Member have a staff that assists in responding to the telephone calls, letters, and requests for information or service that come to their offices each day. See the appropriate Council page for a current listing of the staff members.

When does the City Council meet?

The City Council meets the first four Tuesdays of every month in the Council Chambers at City Hall, located at 255 W. Alameda in downtown Tucson. During the summer months, the City Council only meets once or twice a month as required. See the Mayor and Council Schedule of Meetings for more information.

What is discussed at Mayor and Council meetings?

There are two agendas for each Mayor and Council meeting: the Study Session Agenda, and the Regular Session Agenda. The Regular Session Agenda contains the Consent Agenda. A Special Meeting may also be scheduled at the Council's request to discuss one or two topics of importance. Agendas can be viewed by visiting the City Manager's Agenda Office page.

During the Study Session, the Mayor and Council consider ideas proposed by staff, examine issues and problems facing Tucson, hear presentations relating to agenda items, decide how funds may be spent, and direct the City Manager and city staff to take specific action.

At the Regular Session, Mayor and Council may authorize liquor licenses for businesses and special events, approve rezonings, property acquisitions, or sales, proceed with annexations, approve or amend City of Tucson ordinances, or take other action.

The Mayor and Council also schedule public hearings to hear what the citizens of the community have to say about matters the council will vote on. At a public hearing, speakers may voice opinions, concerns, or suggestions to the council.

The public has the opportunity to address the city council on any topic for five minutes at Regular Session meetings during the "Call to the Audience" segment on the agenda.

At these meetings, the Mayor and Council follow an agenda which has a list of items to be discussed or voted on during the meeting. To review a current or past agenda, visit the City Clerk's Office web page.

How does an idea become an ordinance?

In order for an idea to become an ordinance (a law), it must proceed through a series of steps:

  1. The Mayor, a Council Member, city staff, or a citizen may propose an ordinance to address an identified problem.
  2. The proposal is considered at a Mayor and Council Study Session. Then, it may then be sent to a Mayor and Council Subcommittee for further discussion and input from city staff and interested parties.
  3. A draft ordinance will be written by the City Attorney's staff. It then will be placed on a Mayor and Council Study Session agenda for discussion by the City Council. A Mayor and Council Subcommittee may review the draft ordinance as well.
  4. A public hearing may be scheduled simultaneously at the request of the City Council to permit additional input.
  5. The final version of the proposed ordinance will be placed on a Mayor and Council Regular Session Agenda for approval which may be done in conjunction with a public hearing. A majority of the City Council (at least four out of the seven members) must vote in favor of the proposed ordinance before it is adopted. At that time, the ordinance takes affect 30 days after its adoption by the City Council. The ordinance may be enacted immediately with an emergency clause when five Council Members (not including the Mayor) approve its adoption.

See City of Tucson Municipal Code for more information concerning current ordinances.

How can you make a difference in your community?

Here are some recommendations for community involvement:

  • Become active in your neighborhood association or neighborhood watch. See Neighborhood Resources for more information.
  • Bring your concerns, ideas, questions, and problems to the attention of your Council Member or the Mayor. If the matter is outside of the jurisdiction of the City of Tucson, it will be referred to the proper authority.
  • Attend public meetings to learn about and provide input concerning the issues and topics in the community that concern you most.
  • Volunteer to serve on a city board, committee, or commission to make recommendations to the City Council on a variety of matters. See Boards, Committees, and Commissions Listing for more information.
  • Register to vote and exercise your right to vote.

Now that you know more about the operations of the city government and how you can participate, we can all work together on making Tucson a better place to live.