What do My Elected Officials Do?
Elected Official Job Descriptions
U.S. Senator is an elected member of Congress and serves a six year term. Each state elects two U.S. Senators. She/he must be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least nine years, and must inhabit the state she/he wants to represent at the time of election. U.S. Senators write and vote on laws, working part of the year in Washington, D.C. and part of the year in their home state.
Representative to Congress
U.S. Representative to Congress is elected to a two year term and the number of Representatives per state is in proportion to the population. Vermont has one U.S. Representative to Congress. The Representative must be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and inhabit the state they represent at the time of election. The chief duties of a U.S. Representative are to introduce bills and resolutions, offer amendments, serve on committees, and vote to pass laws in Congress.
The Governor is elected to use executive power to execute the laws of the State, may call special sessions of the Legislature, may recommend legislation and can sign and veto bills. The Governor also appoints the Secretaries of the Administrative Agencies, and chairpersons of various boards and commissions. She/he is obliged to report annually on the State of the State of Vermont. She/he also prepares a State budget and grants pardons and paroles. The Governor is Commander-in-Chief of the State's military and serves as member of many boards and commissions. She/he has many ceremonial, business, and social appointments.
The Lieutenant Governor is the second ranking officer of the Executive branch. She/he is President of the Senate, provides the tie-breaking vote if needed, and when the Governor is absent from the State, performs his/her duties. In the event of the death of the Governor, the Lt. Governor will execute the office of Governor for the balance of the two year term.
The State Treasurer is the State's banker and chief investment officer, accounting for the receipt and disbursement of public funds, short and long-term debt management, investment of state funds, administration of three retirement systems and pension funds, collecting and returning unclaimed financial property to rightful owners, improving the financial literacy of Vermonters, and advising state policymakers on various fiscal and policy issues.
Secretary of State
The Secretary of State is charged with the custody and preservation of the State archives, and is chief recording officer. She/he oversees registration of partnerships and business names, State election laws, lobbyist disclosure laws, trademark laws, and other record- keeping functions. She/he administers the Office of Professional Regulation and oversees licensing, certification, registration, and disciplinary matters for over 40 professions. The Secretary of State is an important resource for Town and City Clerks.
Auditor of Accounts
The Auditor of Accounts, elected biennially, conducts financial audits and performance reviews of every State department, institution, and agency.
The Attorney General, chief law enforcement officer in the state, is responsible for enforcing all of Vermont's laws. She/he also acts as legal counsel to all State agencies and the Legislature and may represent the state in all civil and criminal matters in which the state is a party or has an interest. Additionally, the Attorney General advises the elective and appointive state officers on questions of law relating to their official duties and can present opinions on legal matters.
State Senators provide representation to their constituents by serving on committees, introducing and voting on laws, and serving other special functions such as electing members to the Vermont Supreme Court. The Senate has 12 standing committees; each Senator is assigned to work on two or three committees. State Senators are elected to two year terms. Each Senator represents at least 20,300 citizens in a district.
State Representatives serve a two year term. She/he must be a resident of Vermont for at least two years immediately prior to election, the second year of which must be in the legislative district from which she/he is seeking election. Each Representative is assigned to one standing committee (there are 15) through which bills and resolutions are drafted and voted upon. All revenue bills originate in the House of Representatives.
Probate judges, elected to four-year terms, handle probate of wills, settlement of estates, adoptions, guardianships, name changes, and uniform gifts to minors. She/he are not required to be lawyers.
The Assistant Judge is a vital component of the court. She/he sits as finders of fact in Civil and Family Court, alongside of the presiding Superior Court judge, hence the name, ‘Side Judge.” Once fully trained and certified, she/he may serve as Acting Judge in Small Claims court and preside over uncontested divorces and traffic court. With help of the County Clerk, she/he oversee the County Courthouse budget, allocates county money to the Sheriff's Department, maintains related buildings and grounds, and handles County Courthouse administration. She/he is responsible for commissioning all Notaries Public in their respective counties. The role of Assistant Judge was established by the Vermont Constitution at the birth of the fourteenth state and continues to be an important link between the courts and communities in Vermont today.
The State’s Attorney represents Vermont in legal proceedings, serving as chief law enforcement officer of his or her county, circuit, or district. Duties, mandated by law, include charging and prosecuting crimes through informations or grand jury indictments. This involves conducting discovery, plea bargaining, and trial. She/he works closely with the State Attorney General.
Sheriffs are charged with preservation of peace and also serve legal documents. They are officers of the County Court transporting inmates to and from prison or jail to Court. Every county in Vermont has a Sheriff’s Department. Towns without police departments often contract with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement. Most sheriffs are certified law enforcement officers. They have a four-year term.
The Bailiff's job is to provide protection for the court, especially the judge, jury, plaintiff and defendant. She/he will enforce the policies of the court and carry out orders of the judge, and provide physical restraint if needed. She/he will escort the jury when they move from place to place, swear in witnesses and keep peace in the courtroom.
The primary responsibility of the county assessor is to determine the value of all taxable real and personal property in both the incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county for the purpose of determining the tax liabilities of the taxpayers in the various taxing districts in an equitable manner. The county assessor is responsible for the calculation of property tax levies necessary to raise revenues for government services and administers a variety of tax exemptions, including the exemption and deferral programs for low income senior citizens and disabled persons.
The county auditor has a broad range of duties and responsibilities involving specific statutory functions and county financial administration. The auditor examines and audits county financial records and may prepare the preliminary county budget for the board of county commissioners.
The primary statutory responsibilities of the county auditor are:
Recording real property documents, such as deeds and other recorded documents.
Issuing licenses, titles, and registration for motor vehicles and watercraft as well as issuing various licenses, such as marriage and business licenses.
Collecting certain fees and taxes, acting as agent for the state Department of Revenue.
Overseeing elections and voter registration, acting as ex-officio supervisor of elections and administering voter registration and elections.
Performing financial audit and administrative duties, which may include auditing county expenditures, along with preparation and administration of the county budget and other county fiscal management functions.
Serving as ex-officio supervisor of the state Auditor's Office Division of Municipal Corporations.
Clerk (Superior Court Clerk)
The county clerk is the administrative and financial officer for the state superior court of the county and is responsible for court records, including entry of all orders, judgments and decrees issued by the court. The county clerk provides a number of services in connection with the court system, including maintaining court records and exhibits, administering oaths, managing the jury system, acting as a quasi-judicial officer for the issuance of writs and subpoenas, and providing citizens with access to public court records. The county clerk also has certain non-court functions such as holding bonds for public officials and keeping records for certain special purpose districts.
Board of County Commissioners/County Council
The board of county commissioners or, in most “home rule” charter counties, the county council, is the legislative authority for the county. Depending upon the county charter and ordinances, the board of commissioners/county council may also have quasi-judicial duties, such as hearing appeals of local land use decisions. Some boards/councils have established a hearing examiner system and appointed a hearing examiner to hold hearings on quasi-judicial land use matters. The board of commissioners/county council must also perform certain financial duties, such as levying taxes, appropriating revenue, and adopting the final budget for the county.
The county coroner or medical examiner is responsible for conducting death investigations, including inquests.
The county prosecuting attorney has major responsibilities as the legal representative of the state and counties in actions and proceedings before the courts and other judicial officers. The prosecuting attorney is the legal advisor and attorney for all county elected and appointed officials. The prosecuting attorney prosecutes violators of state law and county code in the county superior and district courts and appears for and represents the state and county in other types of criminal and civil actions.
The county treasurer is the custodian of the county's money and the administrator of the county's financial transactions. In addition to providing financial services for the county, the county treasurer provides similar services to special purpose districts and other units of local government, including the responsibility to receipt, disburse, invest, and account for the funds of each of these entities.
Traditionally, mayors oversee a city's main departments, including the police, fire, education, housing and transportation departments. At the same time, their responsibilities vary depending on the local power structure. There are four main options for a city's local government structure, and some cities use a combination of several.
Aldermen, or councilors, generally act as the legislative branch of the city government, as well as its policy-making body. The council also looks to the city's goals, major projects and infrastructure improvements ranging from community growth to land use to finances and strategic planning.