Torbay is to become the first authority in the South West to be led by a US-style directly-elected mayor.
Local residents voted for the change in a referendum on Thursday. The first elections to chose a mayor will take place in October.
The mayor will choose a cabinet from elected councillors, rather than the post being a ceremonial position.
The aim is to make the mayor more accountable to the people amid a series of controversial council decisions.
The council was rated as among the worst performers in the country in 2002 by the Audit Commission and a close monitoring system was enforced.
But at the end of last year it moved up a rating under the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) and is now described as "fair".
However, there has been a string of controversial decisions, including the closure of public toilets, councillors' pay rises and the removal of a permanent cross at Torbay Crematorium.
Torbay brings to 13 the number of directly elected mayors, including London.