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Charlotte Council Members Advance Four-Year Terms

Steve Harrison
Council members voted 8-3 Monday to advance the possible switch from two-year terms to four-year terms.

The Charlotte City Council took a step Monday night towards moving from two-year terms to four-year terms.

Council members voted 8-3 to place an item on next week’s agenda that would lay the groundwork for a November referendum on the longer terms.

Related story: Charlotte City Council To Discuss 4-Year Terms At Monday Night Meeting

Supporters of the longer terms say that two-year terms are too short and that it’s difficult to get things down before they have to start thinking about re-election.

The council’s two Republicans voted no, including Tariq Bokhari.

"Most of you have already expressed your interest in doing this," he said. "I’ve expressed that I don’t think it’s a good idea. I don’t think that the taxpayers or the voters are screaming for this. I don’t think anyone campaigned on it."

If council members vote yes next week, they would have to hold a public hearing on the issue within 45 days. After that hearing, they would have to vote to place the issue on the November ballot within 60 days.

The council could vote to extend their terms without public input. But most council members have said they believe the public should ultimately decide.

One possibility is that the mayor and council would serve staggered four-year terms. The mayor and four at-large members could be on the ballot one year, and have the seven district members be on the ballot two years after that.

Democrat LaWana Mayfield joined Bokhari and Ed Driggs in voting no. Mayfield supports longer terms, but she was expressed interest in approving the longer terms without a voter referendum.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.