CityVision2015, the League's annual conference held earlier this week in Winston-Salem, became an energized and enthusiastic kick-off of cities' vision for themselves for 2030. The conference focused on that vision with NCLM Board members Jennifer Robinson, a Cary Town Council member, and Jody McLeod, mayor of Clayton, discussing the findings from the year-long League and UNC School of Government-led effort to examine how cities and towns can adapt to meet the demographic, financial and technological challenges ahead of them for the next 15 years. Councilwoman Robinson and Mayor McLeod -- in a sharp presentation that focused on defined dilemmas and how cities and the League as an organization can meet them -- noted the challenges include both the political, like declining public trust in government, and the financial, such as increasing infrastructure needs.
Incoming League President Lestine Hutchens thanks outgoing President Ronnie Wall for his service
Their Monday morning presentation was preceded by a comic performance from Michael Huie, a Winston-Salem actor and Wake Forest University theater instructor, and Wake Forest theater student Solomon Jordan in which Huie portrayed a "municipal visioning expert" whose notions in fact were stuck in 19th century. It didn't take long for the League delegates and others in the crowd to catch on after Huie began asking, "What Would Grandpa Do?" After a presentation by League Executive Director Paul Meyer, attendees got to preview this video focusing on the League's coming media campaign to highlight city-led economic development efforts.
On Monday night, the League's officers for the 2015-2016 year were installed. Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens was sworn in as president; Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny as 1st Vice President; and Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara as 2nd Vice President. The League Board of Directors and membership also approved constitutional and bylaw changes intended to make the organization more nimble to meet the goals stemming from the visioning process. At Monday's luncheon, Wake Forest Athletics Director Ron Wellman served as keynote speaker and discussed the ability to make changes on the fly as a key to success in athletics and other endeavors.
Jessie's Girls plays into the night at NCLM Awards Celebration
Sunday's events included the Host City Dinner and a musical performance, "The Glory of Gospel," performed by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company. There were also concurrent sessions examining a variety of municipal-related issues, and two mobile workshops in which attendees explored Winston-Salem's Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, or Lexington redevelopment efforts. Of course, spending time with friends and colleagues from other cities and towns, and discussing common challenges, was again one of the best parts of the conference.
All of us on the League's Governmental Affairs Team and the entire League staff would like to thank everyone who attended and focused on a common goal -- to keep cities and towns vital and strong. We also want to thank Burlington Mayor Ronnie Wall for his past year of service as League president, including his tireless efforts to advocate on behalf of city needs. And thank you to the City of Winston-Salem, Mayor Allen Joines, and to the volunteers from the city who helped make CityVision 2015 a great experience for everyone.
League members attend concurrent issues session
Representative Stephen Ross of Burlington and Senator Joel Ford of Charlotte were recognized on Monday night as recipients of the League's Community Champion Award for 2015. The award was presented to each legislator for dedicated support of North Carolina cities and towns during the 2015 legislative session. Also at Monday night's Awards Dinner held during CityVision 2015, the League recognized Legislative Assistant Elise McDowell with the General Assembly Ambassador Award. The award is given to a legislative staff member for professionalism and selflessness while carrying out his or her duties at the Legislature.
Representative 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. Senator 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. Ms. 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.
New NCLM President Lestine Hutchens, in presenting the awards, noted that each recipient represents the professionalism that the public wants from its public servants. Representative Ross, in his comments, pointed out while mayor of Burlington he was a devoted attendee of League events, including the annual conference.
(Top) League President Lestine Hutchens presents Community Champion Award to Sen. Joel Ford; (Bottom) Representative Stephen Ross speaks to attendees at Awards Dinner after being presented Community Champion Award.
Governor Pat McCrory and Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz came to Burlington this week to celebrate the restoration of the historic preservative tax credit. The Associated Press described the event as "a victory lap of sorts" after Secretary Kluttz had toured cities and towns across North Carolina throughout the year to draw attention to the issue and create public pressure in the hopes that this vital economic development tool would be restored. In addition to the lobbying efforts regarding the tax credits, the League and member cities and towns were instrumental in helping to facilitate Secretary Kluttz's tour.
At the Wednesday event, Governor McCrory proclaimed the day "Historic Tax Credit Day" and called the tax credit a tool "with a proven record of creation jobs and renewing main streets all across North Carolina." The League once again thanks Governor McCrory and Secretary Kluttz for their helping in restoring what has been a vital tax lever prompting private investment in downtowns across North Carolina. Read more about Wednesday's event here and here.