History of the Government in Winston Salem NC
Many people wonder how the government of Winston Salem came to be. The answer is not that simple, as there were many changes over the years which led it to where it stands today. Let’s take a look at some of those historical events and how they influenced government in Winston Salem NC today.
In the 1900’s the city of Salem was a growing town, but it was still relatively small. For instance in 1908 the population of the city was 13,356 people. In those days Winston Salem and Salem were actually separate cities with their own government and ordinances. There are several interesting reasons why this might have been to your advantage or disadvantage depending on how you look at it.
For example back in those days there were very few laws governing Prohibition for alcohol as that would not come about until 1920 when the 18th amendment came into effect. On top of that prostitution, gambling and other such activities were practically open entertainments in downtown Winston Salem NC . It wasn’t until later that these activities really started to be regulated more closely by the two municipalities.
Around 1915, Winston Salem NC was growing rapidly and many citizens of the town felt that their city government had a lot to learn from other cities with more experience. Some believed that it would be in everyone’s best interest if the two cities merged together into one big powerful metropolis. So, they petitioned the state legislature to make this happen.
It wasn’t until 1917 that Winston Salem and Salem both became part of a new municipality called Winston-Salem, which combined the two separate entities together as one. This happened mostly due to pressure from those who did not want to see themselves governed by an elected body which they thought was incompetent or corrupt. It was also passed on the grounds that unification would have significant benefits for future development.
The first plan was to unify the two cities under a city manager plan, where an experienced professional would be brought in to manage the city’s resources. However, this was nixed by local voters in 1919. Instead they voted for Winston-Salem to adopt a council-manager form of government which had been popularized by other cities around North Carolina at that time. Under this style of government, there would be an elected council who would make laws and policies while electing one council member as mayor who acted as head of the executive branch.
The first meeting of the new city council took place on March 4th 1917 with all members being sworn into office. The first mayor elected was John Healy who served from 1917 until 1921 when he became governor of North Carolina. He was succeeded by Harry P. Liles who served until 1925 when E. C. Brooks took office. Brooks remained in office until 1941, being the longest running mayor in Winston Salem’s history up to that point.
During this period there were a number of key developments which brought Winston-Salem into the modern age during government in Winston Salem NC . For instance in 1924, the city council created the city planning commission for the purpose of making future plans for development and growth within the city limits. In 1929 it was found that one large reservoir would not be enough for water needs, so a second lake with pumping station was constructed at Forsyth Park on North Marshall Street which is still enjoyed today by many citizens and visitors alike.
In the Late 1990’s, the city of Winston-Salem began to experience a recession and there was a lot of disagreement between local citizens on how to move forward. This led to some interesting happenings during government in Winston Salem NC . In 1999, Mayor Allen Joines ran for office promising that he would only serve one term, so he could get out of the way and let someone else take over with fresh ideas. He won this election convincingly against an incumbent candidate who disagreed with his proposal.
Once elected, Joines found himself having trouble getting anything done through the city council as they had opposing views on how to move forward. So he decided that it wasn’t worth his time or effort trying to work with them at all did not attend any more meetings. This meant he did not present any more proposed legislation on any issues. Instead, he allowed his department heads to do this on his behalf and the city council voted them down in most cases. In 2001, Joines decided that it would be better for him to continue working with the public directly where he thought things were getting done instead of being bogged down by disagreements with city council members. He ran for re-election in 2001 mentioning nothing about what was going to happen if he won or lost but won again handily over a well known local politician who had also served as mayor previously.
Today, Winston Salem has a population of just over 240,000 people and is still experiencing growth to this day. While every city must have its government in place, the way that it does so changes with each election cycle and depends on what type of form they choose to adopt for governing themselves. This can be seen as strange or alien to some communities who are used to only having one form of government in their municipality but clearly it works well even though there are many opinions on which is best. For those looking into getting involved in politics for the first time it may be an interesting experiment because the stakes are always high when you have your own life and welfare at stake.