About Tumwater City Government
The City of Tumwater is a non-charter Code City which utilizes a Mayor-Council form of government. Seven Councilmembers act as policy makers, providing the Mayor (the City's separately-elected chief executive officer) with guidelines and performance objectives. The City Administrator and City staff turn these goals into programs and services.
All Councilmembers are elected City-wide (at-large) and, consequently, represent all citizens. It is the Council’s role to adopt policies for the City and it is the Mayor’s role to administer or carry out the adopted policies. The seven at-large City Councilmembers are elected to four-year staggered terms. Every two years, the Council elects a Mayor Pro Tem from amongst the Council to serve as an alternate in the absence of the Mayor.
Separation of Powers
Like the federal and state governments, a city government’s powers are distributed among three separate branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The city council is similar to the state legislature or the Congress; the mayor, like the governor and the President, heads the executive branch; and the municipal court (or the district court by contract) exercises judicial functions, although in a much more limited way than the state or federal courts.
Under the “separation of powers doctrine,” each of the three branches exercises certain defined powers, free from unreasonable interference by the others; yet all three branches interact with each other as part of a “checks and balances” system. The powers of these branches in city government are defined for the most part by state statute. See Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 35A.12 for authorizations of the non-charter Code City with a Mayor-Council form of government.