- Public Information
- City Government Guide
City Government Guide
Get an overview of the City of Durham’s council-manager form of government and the role of City Council.
Council-Manager Form of Government
In Durham’s council-manager form of government, voters elect the City Council which appoints the City Manager to run the operations of the organization. The City Manager role includes managing the budget, overseeing personnel, and making recommendations to council.
City Hall, 101 City Hall Plaza
The council-manager format is similar to the organization of a business corporation: voters (stockholders) elect the council (board of directors), including the mayor (chairman of the board), which, in turn, appoints the manager (chief administrative officer).
The Role of City Council
City Council is the legislative and policy-making body for Durham and is the final authority on city matters. The council:
- Appoints the City Manager, City Attorney, City Clerk and members of boards, committees and commissions
- Approves the annual budget
- Authorizes contracts on the city’s behalf
- Enacts ordinances, resolutions and orders
- Establishes general city policies
- View the City Council Rules of Procedures (PDF)
City Council Chambers
City Council has 7 members: 3 representing specific wards, 3 at-large, and the Mayor. Terms are staggered, with nonpartisan elections every 2 years.
Voting and the Ward System
The residency ward system of selecting City Council members provides representation from different areas of the city. The concept means the Council candidate must live in the ward he or she seeks to represent. The candidate is, however, elected by all city voters. Wards do not affect where a resident votes or which candidate(s) a resident can vote for.
- Searchable City Council Ward Map
- Durham City Council Ward Map (PDF)
- To register, find polling places, and other elections information, contact the Durham County Board of Elections
Council Meetings and Public Participation
City Council holds public meetings and work sessions to discuss and make decisions on City business and issues, and to hear public comment.
Citizen Boards, Committees and Commissions
City Council appoints residents to serve on boards, committees, and commissions that address varied aspects of Durham’s quality of life – from open spaces and trails to historic preservation, to workforce development.
An important step in civic participation is to stay informed on City of Durham activities and issues. Below are several resources to learn about current City news and events.
- To find out about current or recent council actions, view agendas and minutes
- Review the City’s strategic plan, capital improvement plan, and budget
- View the City’s comprehensive plan for growth and development
- Explore the City’s departments
- Follow the City on social media
- Watch live meetings and original programs on Durham Television Network
- Sign up to receive City emails and notifications
Click or call 919-560-1200