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Speaking Out: Fast year with a lot accomplished 

NCLM President and Goldsboro Mayor Al King

It’s been a fast and furious year!

It has been a pleasure to serve as your League president for the past year.  I’ve been involved with municipal government for 35 years, first in human resources and then as Goldsboro Mayor for the past 14 years.  One of the first things I learned was the importance of the League and how valuable it is, so I am honored to have had the opportunity to be the president.

I’m proud to say that we have accomplished a lot over the past year, particularly at the General Assembly. The biggest change has been with the legislators themselves. Two to three years ago, we weren’t able to talk to them.  Even our local officials would avoid us. But now, we can count dozens of legislators who have been helpful in supporting bills that benefit municipalities or stopping harmful legislation.

We have better relationships. We are finding that the state elected leaders are starting to see some of the same things that local elected municipal officials see. And we are beginning to see a difference at the legislative building and in the decisions being made. 

Much of this is because of your efforts in talking with legislators back home and making them aware of your issues. In Goldsboro, some of the same legislators that would barely speak to me a few years are now considered friends.

It’s less challenging for our lobbyists to find folks who are willing to listen to how potential legislation affects municipalities. We have a long way to go, but progress has definitely been made.

We are even beginning to see senior state leaders like Richard Vinroot, former mayor of Charlotte; Charles Meeker, former mayor of Raleigh and others speak out about the consequences of some of the decisions being made by the state legislature. The changes to the annexations laws seemed to be a turning point because they could see the damage that could be done if the state were to continue in that direction.  They understood that annexation was how the state grew.

With Goldsboro being the only city that had property deannexed, this issue is particularly close to me. It cost Goldsboro taxpayers more than $5 million. It is good to see that our relationships with state leaders are improving. We now have folks speaking out about the problems with having the general assembly attempting to pass one-size-fits-all legislation on matters like billboards, building and design codes, and others. All cities are different.

Moving forward, I want to see cities and towns, both citizens and elected officials, get more involved with issues that affect cities and towns across the state. I encourage everyone to find out who the elected state representatives are in your community. Seek them out and let them know who you are. Hold them accountable because the people who elect state leadership, also elect local leadership. Tell them some of the things that they are doing aren’t good for the state and propose a better idea. Many of us are doing that, but we need to redouble the efforts.

The League is about doing it right.  They are here to advise us and let cities and towns know what the legislators are doing in Raleigh, and they are doing a pretty good job of keeping us informed and representing us. 

A lot of damage has been done, but I hope that for the sake of our sate and our nation that we are beginning to a turnaround.

As I leave the role of League president, I truly believe that we are indeed at the start of a turnaround. I’m optimistic and excited to see what is to come.