As an independent city of Virginia (as opposed to an incorporated town within a county), Alexandria derives its governing authority from the Virginia General Assembly. In order to revise the power and structure of the city government, the city must request the General Assembly to amend the charter. The present charter was granted in 1950 and it has been amended in 1968, 1971, 1976, and 1982.

Alexandria adopted a council-manager form of government by way of referendum in 1921. This type of government empowers the elected City Council to pass legislation and appoint the City Manager. The City Manager is responsible for overseeing the city's administration.

City Council[52]
Position Name Party First Election District
Mayor William D. Euille Democratic Party 2003 At-Large
Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg Democratic Party 2012 At-Large
Member John T. Chapman Democratic Party 2012 At-Large
Member Timothy B. Lovain Democratic Party 2006 – 2009
Member Redella S. "Del" Pepper Democratic Party 1985 At-Large
Member Paul C. Smedberg Democratic Party 2003 At-Large
Member Justin Wilson Democratic Party 2008 – 2009

In 2008, the City of Alexandria had 78 standing local boards, commissions, and committees to advise the City Council on major issues affecting the community.[53] All members are appointed by the City Council.

Alexandria is part of Virginia's 8th congressional district, represented by Democrat Jim Moran, elected in 1990. He will not be standing for re-election in the fall.

The state's senior member of the United States Senate is Democrat Mark Warner, elected in 2008. The state's junior member of the United States Senate is Democrat Tim Kaine, elected in 2012.