Oct 21, 2022 - Election

Who does what in local government in and around Charlotte



We’re in the midst of election season, with important races on the ballot like county commission and school board.

We wanted to step back for a minute, though, to explain who does what in local government. Sure, plenty of y’all are very familiar with what the city’s responsibilities are, and what the county’s are. But plenty of others, especially newcomers, may not be.

  • For instance, many citizens may take their frustrations about public schools out with Charlotte’s mayor and city council members. But schools fall under the county’s purview.

Why it matters: Local governments make decisions that impact our daily lives, from the quality of our sidewalks and roads to how much we pay in property taxes.

City governance includes City Council — responsible for making policy decisions and providing direction to the city manager. The city manager (Marcus Jones) is like the city’s CEO and is responsible for overseeing city departments and day-to-day operations, as well as managing how policies get implemented.

  • Charlotte has a weak mayor system, meaning the position is a part-time job. The mayor (Vi Lyles) only votes to break a city council tie.

The county is made up of the County Commission — which you’ll be voting for in the upcoming election — and headed by the county manager (Dena Diorio). She’s responsible for day-to-day county operations, as well as executing the policy decisions the county commissioners decide on.

  • Democrats took full control of the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners in 2018. They hope to hold onto that this year.

Of note: Our city and county governments have in the past been criticized for operating in silos. There’ve been calls for consolidating city-county services, too.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what the city’s responsibilities are vs. what the county’s are:

City of Charlotte:




Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS)

Trash and recycling


Economic development



Housing and neighborhood services

Mecklenburg County:

Health department

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools



Birth, death and marriage certificates

Property records and taxes

Parks and recreation


Social services

[The city put together this explainer a few years ago that you can also reference.]


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