Council Wants Public Input on Term Lengths

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Raleigh City Council members could see their terms lengthen from two years to four. Councilors voted 5 to 2 Tuesday to send the idea to a public hearing next month.

City Council: The Breakdown

Issue: Lenthen them from two years to four
Vote: 5-2 in favor
What’s Next: The public hearing will take place during the 7 p.m. session of the council’s Aug. 7 meeting.

Councilors and the mayor, who essentially is the chair of the council, serve two-year terms and all council seats go up for election at the same time. A final vote on the proposal could come as soon as next month.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Councilor Thomas Crowder voted against the change.

The original suggestion to change the term length came from Councilor John Odom earlier this year. He said it often feels that by the time the councilors are getting down to work, it’s time to campaign again.

Councilors said little at Tuesday’s meeting. But members appeared divided during a previous council meeting, when some councilors said the short terms keep the council working. At that time, McFarlane credited short terms for keeping the council focused.

If you look around at a lot of the elective bodies, we’re one of the better functioning ones,” she said.

Councilor Bonner Gaylord previously said he is ambivalent. He said he thinks the system works even though he doesn’t think campaigning is a productive use of time in office.

Gaylord was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Some councilors, like Mary-Ann Baldwin, said the conversation is worth continuing and that they would wait until after the public hearing to make a final decision.

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