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Speaking Out: Challenging and rewarding 

by League President and Burlington Mayor Ronnie Wall

Since October of last year, I have had the honor and privilege of serving as your League President, and it has indeed been an honor and a privilege. I could not have more respect and admiration for the work of this organization and the hard-working municipal officials working in it.

My experience on the League Board has been both challenging and rewarding. I’ve had the chance to work alongside a group of very professional board members who represent a diverse group of cities and towns. I think that diverse representation will be very important as the League moves forward. It has been rewarding and exciting to see how North Carolina’s cities are involved in so many different and new ways promoting economic development and the quality of life that we enjoy. It has been challenging because my tenure has come at a time when people don’t always make the connections between what municipal government is doing on the ground and the impact those efforts can have across communities and regions -- and how we require some level of autonomy to be able to do those things.

The past year has made it clear just why it is so important that cities and towns are involved with the League. The involvement of a diverse range of cities, towns and villages in North Carolina in League activities strengthens the organization and shows that we have a united front in legislative goals and objectives. The likelihood of positive policy outcomes involves all of us working together and having goals and objectives where we are united in what we’re trying to accomplish.

Whether it’s non-partisan advocacy, insurance, legal advice or debt setoff collection – the full range of services offered by the League are at their best when there’s input from all cities and towns. Everyone being involved is positive because people can see what we’re doing. Everyone understands, and while everyone will not always agree, at least everyone knows up front what we’re trying to accomplish.

Being president of the League has been a lot of work, but it has been rewarding for me and helpful to the citizens of Burlington. As opposed to someone who’s just sitting out there reading the newspaper or getting an email, I’ve been able to have discussions with leadership of the House and Senate and have discussions about why decisions are being made. Not that I agree with all of them, but it gives me a better understanding.

As League President I’ve learned that you’ve got to find some friends in the legislature, whether they’re republicans or democrats. We worked hard to build relationships and I think we’ve made progress. I’m very excited about the future of the League and the state of North Carolina.

Everything that we do is about having vision and implementing that vision over the next 20 years. That is very important in moving the ship in the right direction. I applaud everyone involved in that. They worked extremely hard, and it took strong leadership to move that in the right direction. The Board and the League’s membership has been great, and it comes from a variety of people and communities – large, small and in-between.

Although I’ve decided not to run for reelection, I will still keep up with what the League is doing. I feel good about the direction of the League and municipalities and look forward to seeing what success is to come.