Salisbury city council to have public hearing on changing term lengths

Published 12:10 am Thursday, May 18, 2023

SALISBURY — The Salisbury City Council will hold a public hearing next month to see if council member and mayoral term lengths will be extended or not. Council members and the mayor currently serve two-year non-staggered terms, but four-year staggered terms are being proposed.

Over the past few months, council has held three separate town hall meetings for citizens to come and speak out on what they think about the election process. While the consensus from those meetings showed the public was generally indifferent to the election process, council member Anthony Smith was the first to speak out for a public hearing to consider four-year staggered terms.

“The nature of the size of our city and the growth that we’re having, we need a council that needs more time to develop. Two years is not enough,” Smith said. “For me, it’s a remedy to a growing population with tremendous economic development, so we need a council that has more time.”

When looking at other local municipalities in the county, a majority already have four-year staggered terms for their boards, but only a few have them for their mayors. Council members were split on whether or not to make the changes subject to a referendum. In the end, council will officially decide on approval of the ordinance and if it will be subject to a vote or not after the public hearing.

If it is approved and not subject to a vote, then the top two vote-getters for city council in this year’s election would receive four-year terms, the next two vote-getters would receive two-year terms, and afterward, everyone would receive four-year terms when they come back up for re-election. However, the mayor’s term increase would not go into effect until 2025.

If it is subject to a referendum vote after the public hearing, the motions will be on November’s ballot and if approved, then both the council and mayor’s term changes will not happen until 2025.

The public hearing will take place on June 6 at 6 p.m. during the next regular city council meeting.