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League Honors Legislators for Support of Cities and Towns 

By Ben Brown, NCLM Advocacy Communication Associate

As hometowns across North Carolina work to keep pace with the challenges and responsibilities of growth and service, the League is proud to recognize members of the N.C. General Assembly who’ve served while understanding municipalities’ needs.

This year, the League presented its Community Champion Award to Rep. Ted Davis of Wilmington and Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham for their outstanding support of cities and towns during the 2016 legislative session.

An attorney with a wealth of local government experience, having previously served as chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, Representative Davis "is known for being thoughtful and conscientious and always wants to know how proposals will affect the cities in his district," Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens, outgoing League president, told an audience of hundreds gathered on Oct. 24 for the League’s annual conference in Raleigh, where the awards were presented.

Representative Davis entered the House in 2012 and has served as chairman of the chamber’s Local Government Committee, where he’s kept a close eye on proposals affecting municipalities and was instrumental in stopping harmful legislative provisions.

Representative Davis said of his time in local government: "I became very aware of the need for a good, positive relationship between local government and legislators, because unless you can have a frank and open dialogue with your local delegation, how can you know what the state is going to do that might affect you? Or how can your local House and Senate member know how they can help you with legislation that is important to you?"

Senator McKissick, a legislator since 2007, too is a proven friend of municipalities. Like Representative Davis, he also draws from past local government experience, as a former member of Durham City Council and related bodies.

During the awards presentation, Mayor Hutchens highlighted Senator McKissick’s reputation in the General Assembly "for studying the legislation under consideration, understanding it and the underlying issues, and then asking pointed questions about them."

Hutchens added: "Of legislation affecting towns and cities, he always wants to know, ‘What does the League think?’"

To Senator McKissick, it’s just good teamwork. "We are all partners in this – state and local governments providing for our citizens," he said. He also outlined the closeness that municipal officials have with their communities and, as such, emphasized the importance of allowing municipalities to set policies that are right for them, individually.

"That autonomy should be respected," he said.

The League also presented Legislative Assistant Laura Spratley with its General Assembly Ambassador Award, which is given annually to a legislative staff member for professionalism and selflessness. Spratley is the legislative assistant to Rep. Stephen Ross of Burlington.

There’s a lot to appreciate in Spratley, including her involvement in Rep. Ross’ work to revive the state’s historic preservation tax credits that are so important to community revitalization. "Like our previous winners, she is responsive when our folks come to call, and is a joy to be around," said Mayor Hutchens.

Spratley began work as a legislative assistant in December 2012 and has worked as a policy researcher at the Department of State Treasurer. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Public Administration program at N.C. State University.

Citing her academic and societal focuses on mutual respect and teamwork, she said it’s "a privilege that we have a chance to live in this great country and to truly make this place better."