A deputy mayor is the mayor of a city’s subordinate and assistant. Because city governance in most countries is not standardized, there is no single standard job description for a deputy mayor. Deputy mayors are elected officials with a mix of political and administrative responsibilities. However, not all deputy mayors are elected, and some are appointed technocratic administrators.
In most cases, a deputy mayor is either appointed or elected to the position. In some cities, the deputy mayor is chosen from the ranks of the city council, but in others, the mayor or city council has far more discretion in selecting a deputy mayor. A smaller number of deputy mayors are elected to their positions, either as part of a single ticket with the mayor or as an independent candidate running in their own right.
The duties of a deputy mayor differ as much as the methods used to select them. When the mayor is unavailable, some deputy mayors serve only as temporary replacements. Others have administrative responsibilities that are distinct but minor. When the mayor is unable to perform their duties, almost all deputy mayors serve as acting mayors until a new mayor can be elected using whatever electoral or other process the city uses to elect a new mayor. This ensures that government functions continue in the event that the mayor suffers a misfortune.
Deputy mayors serve as the heads of city government departments in some large cities, such as Washington, DC. In the same way that a cabinet minister or secretary oversees some aspect of national government, these deputy mayors each oversee one or more critical areas of city policy. For example, deputy mayors in Washington, DC are in charge of education, planning and development, and policies affecting children, youth, families, and the elderly.
As part of its administrative structure, New York makes extensive use of deputy mayors. In New York, however, the various deputy mayors have portfolios that more closely resemble those of chief executives of large corporations, perhaps as a result of the city’s role in the world of business. New York has seven deputy mayors who are responsible for education, economic development, the mayor’s legal counsel, health and human services, communications, and operations oversight. New York also has a First Deputy Mayor, who has no specific portfolio but acts as the mayor’s general deputy.