The New York City Council, which dates back to the Dutch colonial days, has the important role of counterbalancing the power of the Mayor. It monitors the performance of City agencies and makes land use decisions. It also legislates on various other matters and has the sole responsibility of approving the City budget. Council members may serve for two consecutive terms and may run for office again after four years.
There are 51 New York City districts, and each is represented by an elected New York City council member. There are 35 committees that have oversight of various City government functions. Each council member sits on at least three standing committees, select committees, or subcommittees. The Speaker, the Majority Leader, and the Minority Leader are all ex officio members of every committee.
The City Council Speaker has one of the most powerful positions in New York. As the head of the City Council, he or she sets the agenda and presides at meetings of the Council. Proposed legislation is submitted through the Speaker’s office.