Until 1994 Poughkeepsie had a Council-Administrator form of government where the Mayor, while elected from all city voters, held the same power as each of the eight member of the Common Council, each elected by voters from his/her wards. This system was widely referred to as a "weak mayor" system. In 1994, the city enacted changes recommended at the time by an earlier charter review commission, that the city adopt Mayor-Administrator form of government. Their goal was to create a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances.
Although many refer to this current system as a "strong mayor" system the commission has found that this term is not accurate. As determined by the Benjamin Institute the City of Poughkeepsie’s current Charter creates a hybrid form of government that exists nowhere else in New York State. Under this charter, the mayor cannot hire or fire department heads; the city administrator does this. Meanwhile, the Mayor appoints the City Administrator, but that appointment is subject to the approval of the Common Council. This often creates confusion about who’s really in charge. The Charter Review Commission’s goal was to essentially carry out the original and recommended intent of the previous commission by creating a true strong mayor. A mayor who can hire and fire the administrator and department heads. Under the proposed system, the buck will stop with the mayor while the laws (and purse strings) will be maintained by the Common Council.