The governing body for the City of Winston-Salem is an eight-member City Council. Voters go to the polls every four years in November to elect the Mayor and Council. The Mayor is elected at large and council members are elected by citizens in each of the eight wards within the city. The City Council is responsible for adopting and providing for all ordinances, rules and regulations as necessary for the general welfare of the city. It approves the city budget and sets property taxes and user fees. The Council appoints the City Manager and City Attorney and approves appointments to city boards and commissions.
As of 2019, the mayor of Winston-Salem is Allen Joines (D), who was first elected in 2001 and is longest-serving mayor in the history of the city. The members of the City Council are Denise Adams (North Ward), Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke (Northeast Ward), Annette Scippio (East Ward), James Taylor, Jr. (Southeast Ward), John Larson (South Ward), Dan Besse (Southwest Ward), Robert Clark (West Ward), Jeff MacIntosh (Northwest Ward).
City officials appointed by the City Council include City Attorney Angela Carmon and City Manager Lee Garrity.