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League Bulletin

May 17, 2019

​WHAT HAPPENED: Amid a calmer week at the General Assembly in Raleigh, municipal officials from all over North Carolina gathered in Hickory for CityVision 2019, the League's annual conference, to celebrate and advance their work as economic engineers and quality-of-life providers for, collectively, the improvement of the state as a whole. 
WHAT IT MEANS: "Working As One. Advancing All." is the League's new tagline under a fresh rebranding that reemphasizes the organization's purpose and how the coming-together of visionary public officials for a common purpose creates a better place for everyone. 
ON TAP: Timely as ever, the conference covered everything from modern public engagement to innovative affordable communities to smart city technologies to the opioid-abuse crisis and so much more. On the final day of CityVision, attendees grouped by region to discuss the takeaways and how they might be applied for the benefit of their residents. 
THE SKINNY: CityVision is all about the future as we make it today, with leaders who know best the context and needs of their respective locales, The unveiling of the League's new branding (with a refreshed logo as well) and focus on making the communities of tomorrow coincided with the election of new leaders on the organization's Board of Directors, including 2019 League President William Pitt, a councilman from Washington with longtime involvement in League activities. Read on for more coverage from CityVision in Hickory. 

​Two full days. Hundreds of municipal officials. Engaging keynote speakers. Displays and demonstrations. Informative sessions giving attendees the tools to face the challenges in their hometowns head-on. CityVision 2019, the League's annual conference held this past week in host-city Hickory, was a rousing success with new features this year that added immediate, practical value for any municipality in attendance. 
"Today, for the League, it's about bettering the lives of North Carolinians by making cities and towns more responsive, stronger, more resilient, helping them reflect unique and local visions," Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem and Immediate Past President of the League Michael Lazzara during podium remarks. Lazzara served an extended tenure as League president leading up to CityVision 2019. "We are working as one, and advancing all," he said. 
"Working as One. Advancing All." was not just a one-off phrase for the conference; it's the League's new tagline, paired with a freshly updated logo, under a rebranding newly unveiled to members. A brief video shown at the conference​ conveys the new look and feel and explains what's inside this exciting change. 
​The main portions of the conference began bright and early Wednesday at the Hickory Metro Convention Center, abuzz with mayors, councilmembers, commissioners, alderpersons, law enforcement officials and municipal staffers. All had access to concurrent and general sessions of their choice with focuses on future-readying, strengthening bonds with residents, communicating success stories on the ground, broadband as 21st century infrastructure and more. 
State Attorney General Josh Stein spoke on the urgency of the opioid-abuse crisis, a major focal point of his office, and discussed the League's Opioid Solutions Toolbox, found at, providing local leaders important tools for combatting the issue. Futurist Matt Thornhill led sessions focused on the context of growth, generational change and disruptive technologies that are shifting how we interface with our communities. Ted Lord, acting president of Golden LEAF, connected League members with crucial information on securing grants that help communities. Brian Hooker, executive director of Fort Mac LRA, wowed the crowd with his presentation on a large-scale redevelopment project on an old Army post in underserved southwest Atlanta. And motivational speaker Jeff Evans inspired with stories of his globetrotting adventures and mountain-climbing, with lessons on teamwork and leadership. 
The City of Hickory, CityVision's host this time around, planned numerous ways for conference-goers to absorb their community, which has undergone and continues to undergo the kind of revitalization that creates a thriving, resident-proud sense of place. During a downtown host-city event added to the conferene programming, League members enjoyed the results with plenty of foot traffic to local shops and restaurants.
Every installment of CityVision is meaningful. This time, especially so. Originally scheduled for September 2018 in Hickory, CityVision went on hold in light of the devastation of Hurricane Florence, the uncommonly powerful storm that churned over the state at the time and left so many communities with more urgent priorities. In turn, the League's Board of Directors and executive staff made the difficult call to reschedule the conference for spring 2019 -- incidentally starting a new schedule for the event typically held each fall. We are so thankful that the City of Hickory graciously welcomed us back, and that there was availability at the Hickory Metro Convention Center to accomodate our group. We look forward to seeing everyone next spring at CityVision 2020, with Wilmington as our host city.

​Washington City Council Member William Pitt was chosen by representatives from cities and towns across North Carolina on Thursday to lead the North Carolina League of Municipalities as its president over the next year. The selection of Pitt as president came during CityVision 2019, NCLM’s annual conference held in Hickory this week. The event attracted more than 400 municipal officials from around state, who gathered to elect officers, conduct other official business and learn from informative programming that included focus on cities and towns being future-ready, broadband access, leveraging resources and grants, and addressing the national opioid crisis.
Besides Pitt’s election as president, League members selected Cary Council Member Jennifer Robinson the organization’s first vice president and Salisbury Council Member Karen Alexander as second vice president.

Pitt begins his term as League president after having served on the Washington City Council since 2009. He has a long history of involvement in League activities, including serving on NCLM policy committees and the Board of Directors. Pitt urged his fellow municipal officials to take advantage of the opportunities working through an organization like the League offers, as it focuses on the common purpose and goals of North Carolina cities and towns. "Let’s make it our goal to listen, to engage and leave our communities better than we found them. Whether serving on legislative policy committees, speaking at the General Assembly, or sharing the value of cities and towns and what we bring to the table, we have that opportunity with the League,” Pitt said.

Pitt replaces outgoing president Michael Lazzara, Mayor Pro Tem of Jacksonville. League Executive Director Paul Meyer praised Lazzara’s dedication, noting how he served during a challenging but successful time in the League’s history. Those challenges included League staff being displaced by the downtown Raleigh fire in 2017 and the postponement of CityVision in 2018 due to Hurricane Florence and the many difficulties that storm posed for cities and towns, including Lazzara’s. “Despite all of that, the League continued to evolve into a mission-focused organization, and Michael’s service was a huge part of that. His dedication in assisting in efforts on addressing the opioid crisis and broadband access were remarkable. He has been integral in terms of continuing to address structural changes in our organization and better positioning the League politically.” Meyer said he looked forward to continuing those trends under the leadership of Pitt, Robinson and Alexander. 

The League also presented awards for their contributions to the organization and North Carolina municipalities to former Executive Director Ellis Hankins, former state House Speaker Harold Brubaker, Superior Court Judge and former Rocky Mount City Council Member Lamont Wiggins, former Court of Appeals Judge Jack Cozort, former N.C. Association of County Commissioners Executive Director Ron Aycock, and League past-presidents Ronnie Wall, Jocelyn Johnson, Everette Clark and Lois Winstead. 

The League would like to thank its new officers and all municipal officials who made CityVision 2019 so impactful. Special thanks to Hickory Mayor Hank Guess, fellow elected leaders and city staffers there who went above and beyond as warm and welcoming hosts. Read more about the conference in local news coverage​ from the Hickory Daily Record.