The City of Erie is incorporated as a 3rd class city under Pennsylvania law. Incorporated under an "optional charter", the city is governed by a mayor–council government. The government consists of a mayor, treasurer, controller and a seven-member city council. All of whom are elected to four-year terms, with the terms of the council designed to be overlapping. The mayor is chief executive; the city council prepares legislation and conducts oversight. Joseph E. Sinnott (D) is the mayor of the city of Erie and was first elected in 2005.
The City provides its residents with police and fire protection, garbage, recycling, water and sewer services. The Erie Police Department provides law enforcement in the city and The City of Erie Fire Department is a full-time fire department.