Raleigh City Council Doubles Term Length to Four Years

City Council members will now serve four-year terms. 

The election process for Raleigh City Council will face another major change, affecting how its members are elected—and how long they will hold their seats. Council members will run for four-yearlong terms—and, plot twist, the topic will not appear on the ballot for voters this fall. 

Council voted 5–2 May 7 to move from the current standard two-year terms to four-year stagger-elected terms, effective in 2026, while also leaning into a nonpartisan primary process that would narrow the field to two candidates per open seat. 

Raleigh’s transitioning model will join a handful of other NC cities such as Asheville, Durham and Greensboro. Right now, all eight local councilmembers (five district representatives, two members at-large and the mayor) are concurrently elected for two-year terms in even-numbered years—a practice updated from the previous odd-numbered year elections in a closed 2021 session vote that faced heavy community backlash for lack of transparency.

Also starting in 2026, enter staggered terms, in which the mayor, one at-large seat and two district seats will be up for grabs in that year, and the remaining seats on the ballot in the ensuing 2028 election. 

While adding three seats to the board was another hot-button topic during the most recent Council meeting—a motion initially pitched by council member Megan Patton—city leaders decided to table the expansion for now. Patton admitted “it isn’t the right time” and cited lack of support as reasons to take the motion off the table for the time being. Ultimately, looks like it all boils down to more reasons to rock the vote come November.

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Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.