OurSociety: Political Office Definitions

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The following list is a compilation of elected positions within municipal governments.  Depending on the town and state these positions may vary.

  • Senate: Senators are responsible for the creation of/voting on bills (a new law). Senate members also approval major presidential appointments and approve/disapprove of treaties with foreign nations. Each State has two and they serve a six-year paid term.
  • House of Representatives: House members share responsibilities with State Senators but are represented by a total of 435 members divided proportionally among the 50 states (based off of population). Ideally, the House members represent the popular will.
  • Governor: Governors are elected as the executive of the state. They are the final signature/veto of bills based on state legislatures. Governors also present budgets, are accountable for monies within the state, and more. Governors typically have both age and residency requirements that vary per state.
  • State Senate: State Senators assist in the creation and passing of laws within a state. They are responsible for researching information about potential topics, reviewing the information researched, and working with colleagues to gain support for the legislation prior to introducing it as a bill. Upon finalizing a bill State Senators will send the bill to the Senate desk. State Senators are elected for a 2-4 year term depending on the state.
  • State Assembly: State Assembly Representatives assist in the deliberation of legislation within the state. Working with the State Senators they help to review and pass new laws within a state. State Assembly members are typically elected for a two-year term.
  • Board of County Commissioners: County Commissioners serve both the executive and legislative responsibilities. They are responsible to both enact local ordinances and supervise them. The office is typically a full-time position with a four-year term. Most often voted on by the citizens of the county. There are some variants to the definition described above.
  • County Executive: Similar to County Commissioners; County Executives are responsible for the administrative, fiscal, and representative duties at public forums. Typically elected to serve a four-year term.
  • County Auditor: County Auditors are responsible for budgets, finances, and property taxes of the operations within the county. Ideal candidates have extensive experience focused on accounting and auditing. Most often elected for a four-year term.
  • County Engineer: County Engineers are responsible for the management of construction, road, and building projects (housing, water, sewage, etc.) within a county. Ideal candidates have extensive experience focused on engineering. Candidates are elected to a four-year full-time position.
  • County Treasurer: County Treasurers are responsible for the collection and allocation of tax dollars within a county. Candidates are typically elected to a four-year term.
  • County Prosecutor: County Prosecutors are responsible for representing the legal interests of the county related to the prosecution of citizens who are accused of having broken local laws. They are typically elected to four-year terms by county citizens.
  • County Coroner: County Coroners are responsible for investigating deaths within the county that are required by law to be investigated. Used to develop information on cause and mode of death. They are typically elected to full-time, four-year terms by county citizens.
  • County Recorder: County Recorders are responsible for the maintenance of public records such as mortgages, real estate, leases, personal property, and more. Most often an elected four-year term position, it is an appointed position in some counties.
  • County Sheriff: County Sheriffs are responsible for the law enforcement operations within the county. Sheriff’s offices perform functions related to warrants/arrests, traffic control, animal enforcement, prisoner management, and more. Elected by citizens of a county for 2-6 year terms depending on the state.
  • County Freeholder: County Freeholders are responsible for legislative and executive operations of a county. Similar to County Commissioners. The term “Freeholder” is unique to New Jersey. Officials are either elected by popular vote or appointed by a board depending on the county.
  • County Surrogate: County Surrogates are responsible for the handling of estates, wills, guardianships, and adoptions within the county. They are responsible for the execution and record keeping of these tasks. Elected by citizens of the county for a five-year term.
  • Mayor: Mayors are responsible for the executive level decisions of the town including police, fire, education, and more. Elected four-year positions and can vary in time commitment (full or part-time depending on the scope of responsibility).
  • City Manager: City Managers are responsible for acting on behalf of the elected officials and the citizens they serve. Ideal candidates attend city council meetings and discuss policy, budget, and share public information with citizens. Position may be elected or appointed.
  • City Treasurer: City Treasurers are responsible for managing the financial operations of the city. Operations include banking, collections, reporting, investment, and more. Position may be elected or appointed.
  • City Auditor: City Auditors are responsible for efforts to keep city government accountable and transparent for their actions. Perform financial audits and may handle financial accounts of the city. Typically an independent official who reports to city councils and citizens. Most often a four-year part-time position.
  • City Law Director: Law Directors are responsible for representing the city’s interest in all administrative, criminal, and civil law matters. Typically an elected position with a four-year part-time term. Ideal candidates are licensed practitioners of law.
  • Council President: Council Presidents are responsible for the planning and facilitation of council meetings, agendas, and committee assignments. Engages with citizens to hear their concerns and suggestions for improvement. Typically a two-year part-time position elected by citizens of the city.
  • Council Member: Council Members (Alderman) are responsible for legislative action and policy-making within a city. In addition, City Council representatives help accomplish the city’s goals in terms of infrastructure improvements, major goals, land use, financials, and more.
  • Council Member At-Large: At-Large Council representatives are fulfill the same responsibilities as City Council representatives but are elected to serve a larger area than a more specialized City Council rep.
  • Town Council: Town Council representatives are responsible for representing the interests of their town such as promotion, supporting groups within the community, as well as managing the town’s goals as related to infrastructure improvements, major goals, land use, financials, and more. Most Town Council representatives hold two year, part-time terms.
  • School Board President: School Board Presidents are responsible for setting agendas, keeping order in meetings, and being the spokesperson for the school board. School boards establish education budgets, set and evaluate goals on a consistent basis, collaborate with voters on measures, and more. Typically School Board Presidents are elected for a two year, part-time compensated position.
  • School Board Member: School Board Members are responsible for establishing education budgets, setting and evaluating goals on a consistent basis, collaborating with voters on measures, helping to facilitate collective bargaining, choose transportation systems, and evaluating school leadership. Typically School Board Members are elected for a two year, part-time position.
  • Committee Person: Committee Persons are responsible for handling the political aspects of their designated area. This includes voter registration, Election Day operations, and more. Committee people also select a responsible for picking candidates that they want to support their political party. Committee Persons are not a supported office by the OurSociety platform.
  • Common Pleas Court Judge: Common Pleas Judges are responsible for presiding over trial courts specifically in trying and settling cases. Common Pleas Judges run for public office but position terms vary by state. Legal experience is required for this position and candidates must run on a nonpartisan ballot.
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