In many cities and towns, the charter or some similar fundamental document provides that in the event of the death, illness, resignation, or removal from office of the incumbent mayor, another official will lead the municipality for a temporary period, which, depending on the jurisdiction, may be for a stated period of days or months until a special election can be held, or until the original end of the term to which the vacating mayor was elected.
Some cities may also provide for a deputy mayor to be temporarily designated as "acting mayor" in the event that the incumbent mayor is temporarily unavailable, such as for health reasons or out-of-town travel, but still continues to hold the position and is expected to return to the duties of the office. In this latter capacity, the acting mayor's role is to ensure that city government business can continue in the regular mayor's absence, and the acting mayor is not deemed to have actually held the office of mayor.
The position of acting mayor is usually of considerably more importance in a mayor-council form of municipal government, where the mayor performs functions of day-to-day leadership, than it is in a council-manager form of government, where the city manager provides day-to-day leadership and the position of mayor is either a largely or entirely ceremonial one.
In some jurisdictions, the mayor's successor is not considered to be an acting mayor but rather fully mayor in his or her own right, much in the manner that the Vice President of the United States is not styled or considered to be Acting President following the death or resignation of the President, but rather President in every sense.
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