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Raleigh to explore longer terms for mayor and council

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin and Wake County Democrats Precinct Chair Virginia Tally greet voters at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Election Day, November 8, 2022.
Matt Ramey
/
For WUNC
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin and Wake County Democrats Precinct Chair Virginia Tally greet voters at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Election Day, November 8, 2022.

Raleigh could change the way it elects its mayor and city council members.

The council voted Tuesday to begin the process of changing the city charter. Right now, all council members and the mayor are elected every two years. Under the proposed change, city officials would serve staggered four-year terms in 2026.

Janie Richardson of the City Attorney's office said the first step is a series of three council meetings.

"At your third meeting, you'd be considering a change to the charter, and we would have to draft that ordinance, which would have to have the exact seats and the exact dates to be included in the charter,” she told the council at a meeting earlier this month.

A public hearing will be held April 2. Two more meetings must be held before the end of August to meet the 2026 start date. The council could also decide to send the proposal to voters for a November referendum. In addition to longer terms, the council will decide whether to add three new members to serve at-large or in newly created districts.

Among the state's largest cities, mayors and council members in Charlotte and Fayetteville serve two-year terms. In Durham and Wilmington, mayors are elected every two years, while council members serve for four.

If adopted, it would be the second major alteration to local elections in Raleigh this decade. In 2021, the council voted to move municipal elections to even-numbered years.

Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.
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