Voters rejected a proposal Tuesday that would have allowed ward Hickory residents to directly elect their own city council members.
The proposed change to the Hickory city charter was narrowly defeated 2,470-2,331. The defeat of the bitterly contested special referendum means that all city voters will continue to elect the six council members, not just the one representing their ward.
Angered by the city council’s decision to close two deteriorating neighborhood swimming pools, proponents gathered more than 2,700 signatures to force the referendum. They argued that the change would make council members more responsive to the wards they represent.
The Hickory City Council opposed the proposed change. Opponents said the change would give voters less influence over the council because they would only vote for one council member, not the current six.