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League Bulletin

December 13, 2019

WHAT HAPPENED: Candidates and incumbents continued their filings this week for the 2020 elections and still have through noon Dec. 20, the deadline for entering races. 
WHAT IT MEANS: As of 10:30 a.m. Friday, the State Board of Elections had 52 pages of candidate names in small print for offices ranging from county-level to our nation's presidency.
ON TAP: If you haven't already received it, you might find in your mailbox an educational mailer about the photo ID requirement for voting starting in 2020. Every house is supposed to receive these mailers. “The March 2020 primary is quickly approaching, and we want to make sure voters are informed about the state’s photo ID requirements,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections, in a press release​.
THE SKINNY: And we've got more news of importance to cities and towns to share as the holidays lock onto our minds. From broadband to rail safety to awards, read on for more from the week. 

Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny, who has served in public office for more than four decades and in 2017 served a term as League president, received one of the state's highest honors this week when the governor's office presented him with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. "So proud of my dad and his being awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine!" Mayor Matheny's son Sam tweeted with thanks to former member of Congress Martin Lancaster, who presented the award. Also joining Mayor Matheny for the honor were son Jim and daughter Michelle. 
"Since 1963, North Carolina’s governors have reserved their highest honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments," explains the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society. 
The League profiled Matheny​ in a fall 2017 issue of Southern City, in which he condensed his philosophy on serving in local government. “I think that you’re elected to represent and look after the people,” he said. “And it’s easy to get caught up in your own thinking and lose focus on the fact that you are here to represent the people.”

Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday told farmers that North Carolina needs fast internet access for rural communities, a priority for his administration. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Observer ran a special report looking at disparities between urban and rural areas, with a lack of adequate broadband access for the latter a prime factor. Governor Cooper's remarks came at the N.C. Farm Bureau's annual convention, where he said he hopes to "get high-speed, broadband internet access to all of North Carolina" as quickly as possible, the Greensboro News & Record newspaper reported​. "That absolutely has to be our priority," said the governor as fast upload and download speeds are increasingly important for farmers in an ever-modernizing industry. 
"Experts say broadband access is no longer a luxury," the separate Charlotte Observer piece points out. It quotes Brian Dabson of the UNC School of Government as saying the provision of broadband "is a policy issue that can make or break a community." Ensuring North Carolina's communities have reliable connectivity is a crucial issue for the League as it concerns the running of business and creation of jobs, healthcare needs, daily information and more. "Parents in some rural communities are said to send their children to do homework in a McDonald’s parking lot, which might have the only reliable service in town, experts say. Potential employers consider broadband essential. Even tourists expect a signal," the article says. 
Learn more about broadband policy and read a report on what's needed at​.

​The N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, a bipartisan group representing the mayors of the state’s larger cities, has reelected Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan as its chair, Goldsboro Mayor Chuck Allen as vice chair, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger as treasurer, and Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer as immediate past chair. Members of the executive committee elected last week include Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, Concord Mayor Bill Dusch and Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh. The Coalition enters its nineteenth year after its annual meeting hosted in Greensboro last week by Mayor Vaughan.
During the annual gathering the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition members visited the Piedmont Triad Airport to learn about the state’s growing aerospace industry and the airport’s focus on job creation.  The visit to the airport included a stop at HondaJet, the headquarters and manufacturing center for Honda’s best in class corporate jets.  They also rode in some of Greensboro Transit’s new fleet of all-electric buses recently purchased from Protera’s Greenville, S.C. manufacturing plant. 
Mayor Vaughan said, “It is an honor to be chosen to lead Metro Mayors and host my friends and colleagues from our state’s cities.  We learn so much from each other. We share strategies, ideas with each other and we work together to make our state and our cities the best places to live, work and play.”

The National League of Cities is asking for signatures on a letter to Congress​ asking that it prioritize rail programming to improve safety at railroad crossings in communities, think about train horn noise and better coordinate with locals, among other things. "America’s cities, towns and villages ask for your support for a robust rail title in transportation reauthorization that puts safety first and encourages a cooperative relationship between railroads and the communities they operate in," the letter says. It asks for signatures by Dec. 21. The letter continues: "Rail interstate networks between cities and regions provide essential transportation flow for American goods and passengers. The intertwined relationships of cities, towns and villages with their neighboring railroads have raised issues of safety after accidents with hazardous materials, flow of passenger traffic with freight, safety incidents at rail crossings, and noise considerations that require communication and collaboration between the railroad operators and local leadership."