Golden's original City Hall,
which was also the Central Fire Station
Courtesy Golden History Center
Golden established one of the first municipal governments in Colorado on March 28, 1860 with the Common Council, electing gold assayer John W. Stanton Jeffco's 1st Mayor that same year. With its current government in existence since 1871, Golden has one of the oldest governments in Colorado. The government was reconstituted in 1871 as a town government of a Board of Trustees, with a Mayor elected by the Trustees. In 1879 the people through an election converted the government to a city of the second class, with the City Council as the governing body, led by a popularly elected Mayor. Golden's four Wards, created several years before, were each represented by two Councilors, making a total body of 9 elected to the Council. In 1947 Golden by election converted to a Council/Manager form of government with day-to-day operations led by a City Manager, and the Mayor resumed being elected by the Council with the previous dedicated Mayor's seat becoming a Councilor At Large. In 1969 half of the Ward seats were phased out in favor of two District seats, with two Wards per District, for a total of 7 people on Council. In 2001 Goldenites voted to resume popularly electing the Mayor, creating the government as it is now.
Today Golden is a home rule municipality of the city form of statutory government in Colorado. It has a City Council/City Manager leadership consisting of a popularly elected Mayor, 2 Councilors each representing a District comprising one half of the city, and 4 Councilors each representing a Ward which each District is divided into two of. The members of Council are each popularly elected from their Ward/District/At Large and they serve to govern the city. The Council hires and supervises the City Manager, who hires and supervises the City Staff, which handles the daily operations of the city. To date Golden has held 89 popular elections for municipal officials, including 83 regular elections and 6 special elections.
Other governmental bodies which have been headquartered at Golden are Jefferson County (1860-today); the provisional government of Jefferson Territory (1860-61); and Colorado Territory (1862-67). Prominent governmental officials who have come from Golden include native son Colorado Governor John Charles Vivian, Nebraska Governor Frank B. Morrison, Massachusetts Governor William L. Douglas, Alaska Territory Governor George Alexander Parks, and Alabama Senator George Eliphaz Spencer who also helped found Breckenridge in 1859. Golden Mayor John B. Fitzpatrick also served as Mayor of Black Hawk.