Succeeding in initiative after initiative, Neisler closes his presidential term having made a significant impact on the NC League.
Per usual, Kings Mountain Mayor Scott Neisler takes the humble road. “I just hope that maybe I did something this year that affected the League in a positive way,” he says, reflecting on an NCLM Presidency that achieved almost nothing but positives.
There were the successes with state lawmakers. With the League positioned as a leader on the issues of local government pandemic recovery, Neisler oversaw the creation and early implementation of NCLM’s American Rescue Plan service line, which has guided all 550-plus municipalities through the federal funding process and towards long-term, transformational successes. The North Carolina General Assembly has supported those efforts through generous state funding, and Gov. Roy Cooper shared his gratitude of the League’s leadership in an introductory letter at NCLM’s four-stop, statewide American Rescue Plan Expert Tour this fall, writing, “When we engage collaboratively, we can make the most of the opportunities presented by the ARP. I am grateful to the League for their leadership, in hosting and organizing this tour, and for their ongoing partnership.”
There were the successes in determining NCLM’s advocacy priorities and establishing the 2023–24 Legislative Goals. That process, in total, included 10 goal idea listening sessions, 32 small group discussions, and the submissions of 400 ideas and 50 distinct goals. After the thoughtful consideration of the Legislative Policy Committee and the NCLM Board of Directors, the membership overwhelmingly approved the legislative agenda and reaffirmed NCLM’s Core Municipal Principles.
And most importantly, there were the successes in bolstering the League as a whole. The activity and accomplishments of the past few years are made all the more impressive considering the circumstances of uncertainty. Neisler and other League leaders played a critical role in ensuring that the organization not only continued its service to cities and towns, but became stronger and more capable along the way. That includes the work done to resolve issues with the NC Association of County Commissioners regarding the League’s downtown Raleigh property—a success that will be felt by League members for decades to come.
“The thing I am most proud of is how the League morphed into what it needed to be,” said Mayor Neisler. “Even through the crisis, we were there, and we were whatever our 550 towns needed us to be.”
As both League President and mayor, Neisler sees both sides of the organization—both the inner workings and the external applications. On the League side, that unique perspective has helped inform his leadership and his guidance of League offerings. And on the city side, it’s helped him appreciate the services. “The League is successful cause it’s appropriate for today. It’s a service organization that really does provide service,” said Neisler. “The cities that are a part of the League get so much out of it—so many benefits. And, and that’s what we have to continue to do in the future. We have got to be appropriate for the needs of the cities of North Carolina. And we’ve done that very, very successfully.”
All of Neisler’s successes—the strength of the League, the strength of its state-level relationships and the strategic vision of the legislative advocacy efforts—were on full display during both the 2022 and 2023 Town and State Dinners. Due to some scheduling peculiarities in the wake of the pandemic, Mayor Neisler had the opportunity to take part each year, as he presided over the dinner in 2022 and interviewed the NC House of Representatives’ leadership in 2023. Between the two events, nearly 1,000 local leaders and state lawmakers attended. “It showcased the standing of NCLM on the state level,” said Neisler.
At NCLM’s annual conference CityVision in April, Neisler will handoff the role of NCLM President and move into the position of immediate past president. While the tenure itself may be ending, the impacts of his work will reverberate for a long time across North Carolina.
“I’m sort of melancholy in a way. But I’m also so proud,” said Neisler. “It’s been an honor to serve the NC League of Municipalities, and it’s been an honor to serve our cities and towns.”