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Local Government History
The City of St. Joseph was incorporated as a village in 1851, a second class city in 1885, a first class city in 1909, and as a constitutional city charter government in 1961. The current charter became effective April 19, 1982, and provides that the municipal government shall be known as a council-manager government. A city manager is appointed by the city council and serves for an indefinite period as the city's chief administrative officer.

City Clerk
The city charter also provides for the appointment of a city clerk by the city council and the election of a municipal court judge by the citizens. The city charter was amended August 9, 1989, to provide for a district council system consisting of nine members including a mayor and three council members nominated and elected at-large, and five council members elected by district. Council members serve concurrent four year terms and are elected on a non-partisan basis.

City Council
The governing and legislative body of the city is the city council, comprised of eight council members and the mayor who are elected on a non-partisan basis. In 1989, the charter was amended by a vote of the people to divide the city into five districts and three at-large representatives. Each member of the city council serves concurrent four year terms. As the policy makers, the city council passes resolutions and ordinances, appoints citizens to advisory boards and commissions, and hires the city manager and city clerk.

City Manager
The city manager is the chief executive officer of the city, and is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the city council. The city manager is directly responsible for the daily operations and administration of the city organization, and hires department directors and employees to assist in these functions.