The City of Hawthorne is a general law city administered by a Council-Manager form of government. The City Council consists of five members who are local citizens elected at large. The Mayor is elected by the citizens to a two-year term and the Council members are elected to four-year terms on a staggered basis, with an election held every two years in odd-numbered years. While the Mayor is elected by the citizens, the Mayor Pro Tem is selected by the other members of the City Council. The City Clerk and the City Treasurer are also elected and serve four-year terms.
The City Manager and City Attorney are hired by the City Council and the City Manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city.
The City Council adopts laws by which the city is governed and sets policy to be administered by the City Manager.