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D.C. City Council
Last updated December 02, 2013

The D.C. City Council is the legislative arm of the city government. It consists of thirteen members. Eight members are elected in ward elections to represent the eight city wards. Four other members are elected city-wide as at-large councilmembers. The thirteenth member, the Chairman, is also elected at large. All councilmembers are elected for four-year terms. The terms are staggered, so that half of the ward councilmembers and two of the at-large councilmembers are elected in every even-year general election. The Council Chairman and the Mayor are elected to four year terms in the same election cycle.

The city charter sets up an election system under which only one candidate from each party can run for the two at-large seats that are elected at each general election. In practice, this has meant that all of the Councilmembers except two have always been Democrats. Two may not be members of the majority party — in practice, this has meant that the Council has always had eleven Democrats and two other members. These Councilmembers have been independents, former Democrats who ran as independents, and members of the Republican and Statehood parties.


Two independent studies of the City Council’s operations are available on the DC Watch web site: the Appleseed Center’s February 1999 report on “Operational Reform of the District of Columbia Council: A Fix-It Yourself Manual,” and the National Conference of State Legislatures’ January 1999, “Report to the Council of the District of Columbia: Building a Stronger, More Effective Institution.”

On December 19, 2000, Chairman Linda Cropp proposed reorganization of Council committees for Council period 14.

The transition plans of Council Chairman Elect Vincent C. Gray, November 9, 2006, and his inaugural address, January 3, 2007

In October 2007, the city council announced the establishment of the Office of Policy Analysis and the Policy Advisory Council to the Office

The City Council also has its own Office of the Budget.

The City Council addressed ethics issues and implemented a code of conduct in September 2009.

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