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Council of the District of Columbia
Coat of arms or logo.
Type
Type Unicameral
Leadership
Chairman of the Council Vincent C. Gray, (D)
since January 2, 2007
Structure
Members 13
Political groups Democratic Party
Independents
Election
Last election November 4, 2008
Meeting place
Wilsonbldg.JPG
John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004
Website
www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us

The Council of the District of Columbia is the legislative branch of the local government of Washington, D.C. Because the United States Constitution places the District of Columbia under the sole control of Congress, all acts of the council are subject to congressional override, and thus the council has less power than most city councils in the United States. However, because the District is not part of any state, Congress has devolved many powers normally exercised by state governments to the District's government; thus, the council considers many matters that would fall to county and state legislatures elsewhere in the United States.

Contents

History

The council was created by the passage of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act by Congress in 1973. This act gave D.C. residents the right to elect a local government with limited authority with its acts subject to the approval of Congress, and was an important achievement of the effort for District of Columbia home rule. Previously, D.C. had been governed directly by Congress through its Committees on the District of Columbia.

Composition

The council is composed of thirteen members, each elected by District residents to a four-year term.[1] The members fall into the following categories:

  • The chairman of the council, elected by the electorate of the District as a whole.[1]
  • Eight members, each of whom is elected from one of the District's eight wards.[1]
  • Four at-large members representing the District as a whole.[1] The terms of the at-large members are staggered so that two are elected every two years, and each D.C. resident has two votes in the at-large election. The two at-large members elected cannot be from the same party; thus, if the top two vote getters in an election come from Party A and the third-place candidate is from Party B, the first- and third-place candidates would be the winners. In practice, District politics are almost completely dominated by the Democratic Party, and the only non-Democratic council members are at-large members.

Requirements for office

  • resident of the District of Columbia for at least one year prior to the general election[1]
  • registered voter[1]
  • if running for a particular ward, then must be a resident of that ward[1]
  • hold no other public office for which compensation beyond expenses is received[1]

Current party affiliations

Affiliation Members
  Democratic Party 11
  Independent 2
 Total
13

Current members

Name Position Party Took office Up for
reelection
Vincent C. Gray Chairman Democratic 2007 2010
Michael A. Brown At-large Independent 2009 2012
David Catania At-large Independent 1997 2010
Phil Mendelson At-large Democratic 1999 2010
Kwame R. Brown At-large Democratic 2005 2012
Jim Graham Ward 1 Democratic 1999 2010
Jack Evans Ward 2 Democratic 1991 2012
Mary Cheh Ward 3 Democratic 2007 2010
Muriel Bowser Ward 4 Democratic 2007 2012
Harry Thomas, Jr. Ward 5 Democratic 2007 2010
Tommy Wells Ward 6 Democratic 2007 2010
Yvette Alexander Ward 7 Democratic 2007 2012
Marion Barry Ward 8 Democratic 2005 2012

Committees

The council has the following standing committees:[2]

  • Committee of the Whole
  • Committee on Economic Development
  • Committee on Finance and Revenue
  • Committee on Health
  • Committee on Housing and Urban Affairs
  • Committee on Human Services
  • Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation
  • Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary
  • Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs
  • Committee on Public Works and the Environment
  • Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations

Officers of the council

Council officers are recommended by the council chairman and are approved by a majority of the council.[1] The following positions are officers of the council.

  • General counsel
    • acts as chief parliamentarian of the council
    • provides advice to the council on legislative policy
    • represents the council in legal actions
    • assists council members in drafting legislation
  • Secretary to the council
    • chief administrative officer
    • keeps the legislative records
    • makes information available to the public
  • Budget director
    • reviews the proposed annual operating budget
    • analyzes the fiscal impact of all legislation and contracts

Council periods

See also

References

External links








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