Local elections vary widely across jurisdictions. In electoral system that roughly follow the Westminster model, a terminology has evolved with roles such as Mayor or Warden to describe the executive of a city, town or region, although the actual means of elections vary. Political careers are often made at the local level: Boris Yeltsin, for instance, as the top official in Moscow, was able to prove his effectiveness and eventually take the job of President of Russia after the collapse of the USSR. When he fought his first contested local election, he demonstrated a willingness to put his policies to the ballot.
In the U.S. there is more focus on electoral reform, including a call for instant-runoff voting to be used to select all major executives. This is thought to make it possible for small parties to compete, as in the case of Matt Gonzalez in San Francisco, California. Such a ballot reform is often a complement to moving towards a “strong mayor” system, such as in Baltimore, Maryland or as recently advocated in Oakland, California.