Historically mayors used to be minor political figures in the Puerto Rican landscape as the executive branch of the government of Puerto Rico exerted an overarching authority over the municipalities. However, in recent years, the executive branch has adopted a decentralized form of government and started to focus on statewide politics rather than on local or regional ones. These policies have granted a high degree of autonomy to its municipalities and their mayors, and has allowed certain highly populated municipalities with robust local economies —such as Caguas and San Juan— to prosper and exercise a high degree of autonomy, while leaving others with mild or little population —such as Florida and Moca— with challenges to overcome. Nevertheless, these policies have made mayors highly influential on the local, regional, and statewide economy of Puerto Rico, as well as in its politics and society. An example of this would be the Willie Tax which was implemented independently in Caguas by its former mayor, William Miranda Marín. The tax was subsequently adopted by other municipalities and eventually evolved into the statewide sales tax known as the Puerto Rico Sales and Use Tax (IVU).
Today, mayors have become strong political stewardesses and anchors for other politicians seeking support from the citizens living in their municipalities. It has also become increasingly common to involve and discuss political matters with the mayors, their assemblies, and the organizations to which they belong to, before implementing public policies, and approving or vetoing bills. Both the mayors and the central government of Puerto Rico, including the Governor and the Legislative Assembly, have been able to work in unison and symbiotically to up bring Puerto Rico and its municipalities.
Mayors in Puerto Rico have the following duties: