RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A bill changing the election process for county commissioners in the state’s most populous county passed the North Carolina House on a unanimous vote Wednesday after the Republican sponsor announced a compromise earlier this week.
The proposal from Wake County’s only Republican state lawmaker, Rep. Erin Paré, would require that most commissioners be elected by district instead of by the county at large.
The 117-0 House vote comes two days after Paré and the Wake County Board of Commissioners, which is entirely composed of Democrats, said they reached an agreement on the proposed electoral changes. The bill now heads to the Senate.
While each of the seven current board members represents and lives in a residency district drawn by the commission in 2021, the entire county currently votes for all candidates.
Paré said the local bill, which is not subject to the governor’s veto, would improve representation for suburban and rural communities outside the population hubs of Raleigh and Cary.
“This is good for the people of Wake, and it’s the right thing to do,” she said on the House floor.
Commissioners would be elected by the existing districts beginning in 2024. Two additional members would be elected by the county at large beginning in 2026, raising the number of commissioners to nine.
The changes would make Wake consistent with other populous counties, such as Mecklenburg and Guilford, which elect their commissioners through a combination of at-large and district seats.
Paré and the board agreed that commissioner elections would remain partisan, as is currently the case in all 100 North Carolina counties. The board did not support an original version of the proposal calling for nonpartisan plurality elections with no primaries or runoffs.