RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- House Bill 99 passed its final reading in that chamber Wednesday, setting up possible changes to how elections are conducted and the number of seats for the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
Currently, there are seven commissioners, each elected on at-large basis, meaning everybody in the county can vote in each race. Starting in 2024, the bill calls for commissioners to be elected based on previously established electoral districts. Beginning in 2026, two at-large seats will be added, bring the total to nine commissioners.
"At the end of the day, it is clear that single-member electoral districts in Wake County given our population and the diverse communities of interest around the county make sense. It's the right thing to do for the people," said Rep. Erin Paré, a Republican who represents Wake County and sponsored the legislation.
To keep with the staggered elections previously passed by the Board of Commissioners, for the at-large seats, the leading at-large vote getter will serve a four year term, the second place vote getter will serve just a two-year term initially, before shifting to a four-year term moving forward. All current commissioners will continue to serve in their roles without impact.
"The reality is we have very diverse, smaller towns and communities of interest within Wake County. So when you have 55% of the electorate that resides in Raleigh and Cary, I think it makes a whole lot of sense to be electing members of the Board by district," Paré said.
The bill comes following discussions between Pare and the board of commissioners, which included amendments to the initial filing. In a joint statement to ABC11, Wake County Commissioners wrote:
"The Wake County Board of Commissioners agreed to a compromise with Rep. Paré, so that the two most concerning elements of the original legislation were removed. The requirement to run non-partisan plurality elections would have resulted in no primaries and no guarantee that any candidate would have received more than 50% of the vote. The amended legislation allows these elections to remain partisan as they are currently."
The bill will now head to the Senate. Since this is considered a local bill (legislation which affects fewer than 15 counties), it is not subject to a possible veto by the Governor; Wake County is the lone county impacted by this proposal.