Elected Mayor Mark Meredith said he was disappointed with the result
Voters in Stoke-on-Trent have voted to get rid of their elected mayor.
The current political system, which is unique in England, will be replaced by a council leader and cabinet set-up.
The referendum vote was 21,231 for a council leader and cabinet, and 14,592 for a mayor and cabinet. The turnout was 19.23%.
A government commission said the city must change its system, under which the elected Labour mayor Mark Meredith and his chief executive make all decisions.
These decisions are then scrutinised by the rest of the councillors.
Mr Meredith will serve as mayor until spring 2009.
When his term finishes there will be 11 elected mayors left in England, including London's mayor Boris Johnson.
Mr Meredith said he was disappointed with the result of the referendum.
He said: "In politics you win some and you lose some.
"We have to accept the results of the people of Stoke-on-Trent and we do need to move forward together.
"I wish the councillors the very best of luck. I will continue to work with those councillors over the next few months to try and improve the lot of our people here in Stoke-on-Trent."
Stoke-on-Trent councillors had already said they preferred the option of an elected council leader with a cabinet.
Fewer than 20% of voters turned out
City councillor Mick Salih, a campaigner for the council leader system, said the poll was "a good result for the people of Stoke" and "a good result for democracy".
He added it would mean more councillors getting involved in the decision-making process.
The authority was the only one in England to have adopted the elected mayor and council manager model of governance.
However, this option has been withdrawn by the government and the city council was told to adopt one of the other two options - a council leader and cabinet or a mayor and cabinet.
The full city council will meet on 13 November to make a formal decision to implement the system chosen in the referendum.
A new constitution will be put to a council meeting on 29 January 2009.