Skip to Main Content

League honors legislators with Community Champion awards 

by League Communications Associate Jessica Wells

Representative Stephen Ross of Burlington and Senator Joel Ford of Charlotte were recognized at CityVision 2015: Ignition! during the President’s Banquet and Inaugural Gala as recipients of the League’s Community Champion Award for 2015. 

This is the second year that the League has presented the award to legislators who make strong efforts to work with municipal officials and ensure that municipal interests are represented during the legislative process. 

The League also presented Legislative Assistant Elise McDowell with the General Assembly Ambassador Award, which is given annually to a legislative staff member for professionalism and selflessness while carrying out his or her duties at the Legislature. McDowell, of Raleigh, is legislative assistant to Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown and first began working at the North Carolina General Assembly as a legislative intern in 2009. 

“We greatly appreciate the support these legislators have given to the League and North Carolina over the past legislative season,” League Executive Director Paul Meyer said. “We had some big wins this year and it wouldn’t have been possible without them.” 

Ross is a second-term House member representing portions of Burlington and Alamance County. A former mayor of Burlington, he was a prime sponsor and key supporter of legislation to restore the state historic preservation tax credit. Ross is a former Burlington mayor and council member and pointed out he was a devoted attendee of League events, including the annual conference, for 20 years. 

“In a way this is like coming back home. That’s one of the reasons this means so much to me – the 20-plus years that I spent as a member of the League and National League of Cities,” Ross said. “I plan to make sure that we build a better North Carolina. The way we build a better North Carolina is from the ground up – one community at a time – city by city.” 

He also thanked all of the municipal officials who sent letters regarding the restoration of the historic preservation tax credits because it was an excellent example of the success that’s possible when municipal officials stay engaged and abreast of legislative affairs. 

A Charlotte native, Ford is serving his second term in the Senate representing portions of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. A one-time member of the Charlotte Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, he is serving as Senate co-chair of the newly formed legislative city caucus, which aims to have more conversations about exchange information about legislation that would affect municipal governments and identify growth possibilities in all 100 counties. 

“When I first got elected, one of the things I quickly recognized is, you don’t get in this for the money, and you certainly don’t get into it for the recognition, so this is truly a surprise and honor,” Ford said. “I truly believe the best form of government is the government closest to the people, and all of you here represent what is best about North Carolina.” 

Newly elected League President and Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens, in presenting the awards, noted that each recipient represents the professionalism that the public wants from its public servants.