How to Address a Member of a City, Town or County – Council or Board
‘Councilman’ and ‘councilwoman’ are roles filled by citizens on a town, city or county council. The position can be either elected or appointed.
In some communities a council is not made up of ‘councilman’ and ‘councilwomen’ at all and are ‘members’ of the council.
‘Counselor’, ‘counsellor’, ‘councilor’ or ‘councillor’ are spelling used in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and other parts of the Commonwealth, and sometimes in the United States. They have the advantage of being gender neutral.
‘Councilman’ and ‘councilwoman’ are not formally used as honorifics in a salutation or in direct oral address. However, the staff of a member of a council may use the terms as honorifics for clarity, as when answering the phone ‘Councilman (Surname)’s office’ rather than ‘Mr./Ms. (surname)’s office’ -or- when referring to the member in the third person as ‘the Councilman will be returning in ten minutes.’
All that said, while ‘Councilman/Councilwoman (Surname)’ may not be the most traditional, it is sometimes the preferred honorific of a particular member, so follow the preference of the bearer.
Are They The Honorable?
Some are the Honorable – Others are not.
Technically anyone elected to office in the U.S. in a general election is entitled to be addressed as ‘the Honorable (Full Name)’. In practice, members of many city, town and county councils are not – by local tradition – so addressed.
The only way to know the tradition in your community is to call the office of your local council or board – and ask.