The city operates under a council/city manager system. Voters in their single-member districts elect council members for four-year terms. There are six single-member districts in the city. The mayor is elected at large for a two-year term and presides over the council. The city manager is appointed by the council and is responsible for carrying out the ordinances of the city as well as overseeing the day-to-day operations of the various city departments.
The council meets every Thursday in open session to discuss issues involving city policy and procedures. They are responsible for approving the city budget and have the discretion to schedule public hearings to address special concerns. In the past year, a highly controversial smoking ordinance was passed by the council, banning smoking in certain establishments. Prior to approving the ordinance, citizen focus groups and public hearings were held to insure that all citizens voiced their concerns. The ordinance ultimately came before the voting public for final approval and was passed. The council has also appointed a youth commission made up of area high school students to bring issues of concern to youth before the council.
The city is served by four public libraries located throughout the city with the main branch, Mahon Library, located downtown.