Like most other cities in modern America, a popularly elected mayor governs Metropolis in combination with a unicameral (single legislative body)1 city council. Metropolis's city council is made up of 54 council members elected from districts within the city. The districts are defined by geographic population boundaries that each contain approximately 157,000 people. The district boundaries are redrawn every twenty years following every other U.S. census.
Queensland Park leads the city in the number of city council seats, followed by New Troy, Bakerline, Park Ridge, St. Martin's Island, and Hell's Gate, respectively.
Mayoral elections are held every four years. City council elections are also held every four years, with 27 members being chosen in the middle of the mayoral term, and then the other 27 selected at the same time as the mayoral election. Both the mayor and the council members are limited to two terms. The Speaker of the Council is selected by the 54 Council members and is often considered the second most powerful post in Metropolis's government after the mayor.
Three times annually the mayor and the city council grant the public an audience for the purposes of airing issues and topics that they feel strongly about. At that time, the city council can choose to take the concerns into chambers and fast track them for future legislation in the form of city ordinances. For example, a request was made to prevent vendors from setting up booths within Centennial Park. The council acted upon this quickly and passed it as a city ordinance. Another recent ordinance that received such quick approval was a recommendation that all new mothers be required to take infant CPR courses at their local hospital.
Also, the city council is free to shelve issues, either by delaying a vote or outright killing the issue. However, council members know who can vote them in and out, and it's quite normal for all but the most outrageous ordinance proposals from citizens to be at least discussed at a council meeting.
Mayors of Metropolis
- William Mertz (depression era reformer)
- Arnold Williamson (1950's)
- Frank Berkowitz (killed in office 1993-94?)
- Bradford (Bud) Sackett (1999)[In the DCU, Sackett was elected to office thanks to the 'generous' support of LuthorCorp.]
In addition to their city council members, each borough also elects a Borough president every four years. Borough presidents advise the mayor on issues relating to each borough, comment on all land use items in their borough, advocate borough needs in the annual municipal budget process, administer a small discretionary budget for projects within each borough, appoint Community Boards, and chair the Borough Boards.
While the bulk of lawmaking power remains within the purview of the state government, Metropolis's city governmental system is a robust one. With an immense number of people living in the city the mayor of Metropolis's powers approach those of a governor of a small state. Although each of the six city boroughs is also its own county2 under state law, none of the boroughs has a county government aside from the borough president. Most traditional county functions are carried out by the city with the exceptions of the office of District Attorney and Superior Court3.
The voting history of the city's six boroughs is as follows:
St. Martin's Island: conservative
Hell's Gate: liberal
Queensland Park: mixed
New Troy: liberal
Park Ridge: mixed
The voting records of the various boroughs within the city reflect their financial, ethnic, and socioeconomic states. For example, St. Martin's Island is home to some of the city's leading business leaders and oldest, most conservative families. It's always mined by conservative candidates during presidential elections in exchange for the prestige of hosting a presidential vacation if said conservative is elected to office.
Hell's Gate, conversely is a blue-collar borough. It's home to many laborers who work on the south end of New Troy in various industries. As such, the workers are traditionally swayed to the liberal cause.
Within the last 10 years, Bakerline has been one of the city's fastest growing regions. For this reason, it has seen a large influx of new businesses and families.
Park Ridge can go either way in an election because of its nearly perfect balance of old money and new ideas. While the bulk of Metropolis's first families relocated to St. Martin's when the city government successfully sued the EPA and changed the designation of 40 percent of the island from protected wetland to develop-able land, a few influential families remained in Park Ridge. At the same time, Park Ridge has become a favored location for college and university faculty to live. Artists and liberal thinkers have come to call this home.
New Troy is a fast-paced and fast-thinking borough. Liberal ideas, not surprisingly, often win over more conservative ideas.
Despite repeated attempts led by the general public and the private sector, the federal government maintains a large presence in Metropolis. This presence has always been a sticking point for the city's conservative mayors. However, more liberal mayors have welcomed and even encouraged it.
The bulk of the federal presence in the city is, according to its agencies, to aid the populace. These programs have caused many to see its main objective here solely to increase regulations on business owners and taxpayers.
Since setting up shop in Metropolis, the federal government has begun several pilot programs, using Metropolis as a test case before expanding them on a national scale.
Metropolis also has a large contingent of federal law enforcement agencies - the FBI, CIA, NIA and U.S. Marshals. In many cases, the agencies' presence within the city limits is greater than in their respective national headquarters.
Only the future will tell what challenges the city will face as the next century.
1 In contrast, the United States has a bicameral (two body) legislative branch - the Senate and the House of Representatives.
2 In the U.S. there are several layers of government - Federal, State, County, and (where applicable) town or city. In rural areas, the county is the primary governing body and is generally charged with issues of planning and land use, law enforcement, social services (including some educational services) and some court services. In cities such as New York and Metropolis most county services have been subsumed by the equivalent city service. The exceptions are primarily in law enforcement and the court system. The position of District Attorney is a borough/county position, not a city one.
3 In New York State, what is generally termed 'District' or 'Superior' Court is called 'Supreme' Court. The highest court in the state is called 'The Court of Appeals'. If you (as a writer) place the Metropolis in New York State, the 'Supreme Courts' handle criminal trials. Their jurisdictional boundaries are borough/county. Should you choose to place Metropolis in Delaware, the 'Supreme Court' is the highest court in the state and 'Superior Court' is the state's trial court of general jurisdiction.
Daily Planet Guide to Metropolis, from WEG
Additional material from the The Atlas of the DC Universe, from Mayfair Games
Superman: The Ultimate Guide to the Man of Steel (Hardcover) by Scott Beatty (Author)