The City of Newport News obtained its present Charter from the Virginia General Assembly effective July 1, 1958, as a result of the consolidation of the Cities of Newport News and Warwick. Originally incorporated in 1896, with a population of 9,000, Newport News grew so rapidly that it became a city without passing through the village or town stage. The City was governed by a Bicameral Common Council, then a Board of Alderman, and in 1920, the present Council-Manager form of government was established.
The City of Newport News is administered by a Council-Manager form of government in which six citizens are elected from three districts—North, Central, and South—to serve on the City Council. The Mayor is elected-at-large. The City Council establishes the City's public policy through resolutions and ordinances, approves proposed programs, and controls the funding of these programs. City Council is guided by the City Charter; as adopted and approved by the Virginia General Assembly, and by its own rules of procedure, resolutions and ordinances. City Council makes decisions after obtaining input from citizens and staff.
The City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk are appointed by the City Council and department heads are appointed by the City Manager. As chief administrative officer of the City, the City Manager oversees the work of all City departments and offices and administers the policies established by City Council.