Raleigh has a Council-Manager form of government. Forty-six cities out of the top 100 US cities by population have a Council-Manager form of government. Some of the other major cities that share this distinction are:
- San Diego
- Virginia Beach
In a Council-Manager form of government, the people elect the council and mayor. The city council serves as the legislative body and appoints a city manager to oversee day-to-day operations. The city manager proposes the operating budget, implements city council policy and initiatives.
Mayors are elected by the people. Unlike in a strong mayor-council government, the mayor is a regular voting member of the city council.
Raleigh's city council are elected officials made up of eight members. Five members are elected by residents of their district. Three seats, including the mayor, were elected at large. This means every Raleigh registered voter can vote for two at-large council members and mayor.
Most major cities in North Carolina are a Council-Mayor form of government.