Mountlake Terrace has a seven member City Council that serves under a Council-Manager form of government. City Council elections are held every two years with Councilmembers elected to staggered 4-year terms. Citizens of Mountlake Terrace may run for City Council if they are at least 18 years old and residents of the City for the previous twelve months. Candidates for office must file with the Snohomish County Elections Office and pay a filing fee to run for office. The official filing period usually begins in June of each Council election year and is open for one week. Candidates must also file with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission within two weeks of filing as a candidate.
If more than two candidates file for a particular Council position, a primary election is held in August. The two candidates who receive the highest number of votes continue on to the general election held in November of each odd-numbered year. New Councilmembers begin their 4-year terms on January 1 of the following year.
At the first meeting of each even numbered year, the Council elects their Mayor for the following two years. Under the Council-Manager form of government, the Mayor presides at meetings and attends ceremonial events on behalf of the city. Each year, the Council elects a Mayor Pro Tem who serves in the same capacity in the Mayor's absence.