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Mayor's Office

Posted on: February 5, 2020

Local Governance Study Commission Seeking Survey Responses

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NEWS RELEASE
Office of the Mayor
Feb. 5, 2020

The members of Winston-Salem Local Governance Study Commission are seeking more responses to their online survey on how the mayor and City Council members should be elected.

The survey has seven questions and seeks input on such questions as whether some council members should be elected at large, the term lengths for council members and whether council elections should be partisan or non-partisan.

The survey is posted at CityofWS.org/LGSCsurvey. The top of the survey includes a link to a short video presentation on the various ways the City Council could be restructured.

As of Jan. 31 the commission had received 136 responses to the survey: 82 filled out online and 54 completed at the community meetings the commission held last week. 

At their meeting Feb. 4, commission members agreed that they would like as much input from citizens as possible before they formulate their recommendations at their meeting in March. Dr. David Branch, the co-chair, said the commission should make every effort to collect input from citizens. “When we’ve made our recommendation we want to be able to say that we were transparent and open,” he said.

Of the surveys already in hand, 62 percent agree that some council members should be elected at large, 75 percent want to keep council terms at four years, and 66 percent want to keep council elections on even-numbered years. On other questions the results were close enough to be statistically a tie, including the questions of staggering council terms and switching to non-partisan elections.

Scott Tesh, the city’s director of performance and accountability, noted that the survey results cannot be construed as a representative sample of the city population because participation is voluntary.  Nonetheless, Branch said, “I’m looking to identify trends of thought. If something is 50-50 it’s hard to make a decision. But if it’s 80-20 it gets our attention. So trends of thought will help us make our decisions.”

The commission agreed to move its meeting date in March because it would fall on the date of the primary elections. The new date will be announced after all commission members are polled for their availability.

The 11-member, non-partisan commission, jointly appointed by Mayor Allen Joines and N.C. Reps. Donny Lambeth and Debra Conrad, is evaluating 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. 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.

A webpage for the commission has been created at CityofWS.org/LGSC. Agendas and minutes of meetings are posted on the page.


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