Office of the Mayor - Sept. 6, 2019
The Winston-Salem Local Governance Study Commission held its first meeting yesterday and is soliciting input from city residents on the method for electing the mayor and City Council members. Suggestions may be submitted online using a form posted at CityofWS.org/LGSC.
The 11 members of the non-partisan commission will review best practices relative to municipal governance structure, obtain public input as to the type of structure desired by the citizens of Winston-Salem, and analyze any potential impacts or consequences of proposed changes.
At yesterday's meeting the commission members were briefed on the requirements for public commissions and received a presentation on the legal framework for elections and re-districting from a representative of the UNC School of Government.
The commission will meet on the first Tuesday of each month. A webpage for the commission has been created at CityofWS.org/LGSC. Agendas and minutes of meetings will be posted on the page.
The study commission is co-chaired by Steve Berlin, the managing partner of the Kilpatrick Townsend law firm; and Dr. David Branch, a local ophthalmologist and community leader. The commission will be allowed to take as much time as necessary to fully evaluate the city’s election process. If it determines that a change in the process is needed, the commission will recommend a structure that ensures appropriate representation of all segments of the population.
Currently the mayor and City Council members are elected to four-year terms during presidential election years. The mayor is elected city-wide and the eight council members are elected by wards.
Given the time needed for the commission to complete its work, no changes will occur in the 2020 election process for the Winston-Salem mayor and City Council.
N.C. Reps. Donny Lambeth and Debra Conrad and Mayor Allen Joines announced in May plans to form the commission. Lambeth has said that he would like to bring Winston-Salem’s governance structure in line with the majority of other municipalities within the state. Initially, he and Conrad had filed a bill to change the city's election method. They later withdrew it after plans to form the study commission were announced.