What’s the job description for each elected NYC official?

A line of people using voting booths in the USA.

This post sponsored by New York City Campaign Finance Board.


The New York City election of 2021 has few precedents — it’s the largest in a generation, with every City office on the ballot, from Mayor to City Council members. It’s also the first election where ranked choice voting will be used.

It can be dizzying to learn about so many candidates and their positions on the issues, but watching video statements at voting.nyc/candidates can help — as can the voter guide you received in the mail.

While you do that, it can also help to learn about each office and what they actually do. For that, read on.



New York City mayor is often referred to as the second most important — and difficult — job in American government. As the City’s Chief Executive, the job entails the following:

  • Sets the agenda for City policies and proposes the City budget.
  • Appoints and removes the commissioners of more than 40 City agencies (police, fire, sanitation, etc).
  • Has control over the City’s public schools.
  • Appoints dozens of representatives to City boards and commissions.
  • Serves up to two four-year terms.

You can learn more about the candidates at debates for Mayor on June 16 on WNBC.


Public Advocate

A relatively new position introduced in City government in 1993, the Public Advocate is first in line of succession should the mayor leave office, until a special election. They do the following:

  • Investigates complaints towards businesses, individuals or City services. Former PA Bill de Blasio created the Worst Landlords WatchList, for example.
  • Introduces and co-sponsors bills and can attend City Council meetings.
  • Can serve two four-year terms.



The Comptroller is the City’s top accountant – although there’s more to the job than just crunching numbers. Here’s what they do:

  • Conducts performance and financial audits of all city agencies.
  • Advises the Mayor and City Council on the City’s financial status.
  • Serves as a fiduciary to the City’s five public pension funds.
  • Reviews City contracts for integrity, accountability and fiscal compliance.
  • Can serve two four-year terms.

You can learn more in candidate debates for Comptroller on June 20 on WNBC.

Borough President

The Borough President, referred to as a “beep,” serves as an advocate for their borough, with a direct line to the mayor. The job is more than just advocacy, however. It includes:

  • Holding public hearings on any proposed rezoning issue.
  • Proposing legislation through a council member who then introduces the bill.
  • Serves for four years up to two consecutive terms.

City Council

The City Council is the law-making branch of New York City’s government. There are 51 members, with 47 seats having contested primaries this June.

What they do:

  • Introduce bills, hold hearings, and create new laws. In 2020, the City Council enacted 125 local laws.
  • Negotiate with the mayor and approve the City’s budget. The current FY2021 budget totals $88.2 billion.
  • Oversee New York City agencies and programs and hold their leaders accountable.
  • Serve for four years up to two consecutive terms.

Once you know who you want to vote for, and how you’d like to rank the runners-up, you can use our online tool to build and save a copy of your ranked candidate list for each office. Bring it to the polls with you as a reminder of who you want to rank.