May 15, 2024 - News

Petitions form to push Raleigh City Council's 4-year terms to the ballot

Animated illustration of an hourglass over a divided red and blue background with elements of ballots. The sand falls through, and the hourglass flips over.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A group of Raleigh residents is trying to push Raleigh City Council's recent decision to move to four-year terms onto the ballot this November.

State of play: The Raleigh City Council earlier this month approved the change to four-year, staggered terms starting in 2026 without putting it before voters as a referendum.

  • The decision passed 5-2, with members Mary Black and Megan Patton voting against it only because they preferred it go to a referendum.

Yes, but: The decision could still wind up before voters if a petition gets 5,000 signatures within 30 days of May 13, when the city published a notice of the change.

Driving the news: Livable Raleigh, a local advocacy group that most notably opposes the city's "missing middle" reforms, said this week it is launching a drive, along with several candidates who plan to run in November, to get enough signatures to force the term extension change onto the ballot.

  • The group is also asking for signatures to force a referendum on adding three more seats to the council — something the City Council explored before ultimately deciding to table.
  • Another petition has also been launched by a local resident on change.org.

What they're saying: Livable Raleigh said it is not taking an official position on whether council terms should be limited to two years or if there should be more seats.

  • "[B]ut we think it is imperative that these decisions be made by the voters," the group said in a release, saying a majority of residents have expressed that they didn't want to see four-year terms.
  • A survey of Raleigh residents last year found that 40% supported four-year terms, while 50% did not, the city shared in a presentation earlier this month.

Flashback: Livable Raleigh is not a stranger to launching petitions, having piloted a failed recall effort of Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin in 2021.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that petitions for a referendum have 30 days from May 13, not May 7.

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