The municipal government established by the City Charter is known as the "Council - Manager" form of government. The elective officers of the City consist of five City Council members, all previously elected at-large. In April 2016, two City Council members were elected by district to four-year terms in Districts 1 and 3, and the Mayor was elected citywide for a two-year term. In April 2018, two City Council members were elected by district to four-year terms in Districts 2 and 4, along with the Mayor for a two-year term.
The Mayor is the official head of the City for all ceremonial purposes and, together with all Council members, interprets the policies, programs and needs of the City government for the people. The Council elects a member to serve as Mayor Pro Tempore. The City Manager is the head of the administrative branch of the City government and is responsible to the City Council.
The City Council serves as the City’s primary policy-making and legislative body of the City. The Council also serves as the Whittier Redevelopment Successor Agency and the Whittier Public Financing Authority Board, Whittier Utility Authority and the Whittier Housing Authority. The City Council adopts the City's annual operating budget and capital improvement program.