Poll Results Reflect Strong Support for Local Decision-Making

Scott Mooneyham, NCLM Director of Political Communication & Coordination

Understanding the thoughts and opinions of our communities on the most important local issues.

In a representative democracy, knowing the thoughts and opinions of the people is crucial when it comes to setting policy and passing laws that reflect their will. That is the case whether at the local, state, or federal level.

It is why state constitutions require that state legislatures set procedures to allow people to make their views known before laws are passed. It’s why open meetings laws require local policies be made in meetings open to the public. It’s why some elected officials—especially those at the local level—will take a stroll downtown to take the temperature of those whom they represent about the latest hot-button issue in their communities.

Understanding the thoughts and opinions of voters and the larger public is also important to an organization like the League of Municipalities. That understanding can help make the case for policy positions that benefit towns and cities, and the organization can in turn better help member cities and towns know a little more about the perspectives of residents.

With that in mind, NCLM recently commissioned its first poll since 2015. Conducted by polling firm Embold Research, the survey of 1,077 registered voters in the state examined a range of issues and policies related to residents’ quality of life and how they see local and state government affecting their quality of life.

Conducted in late October and with a margin-of-error of plus or minus 3.2%, the poll measured how satisfied North Carolina voters are with their communities, how important local amenities are to them, and how they view policies affecting development and who should make those policies.

Among the most significant findings:

  • 77% of respondents said that local governments should have more control over decision-making that determines how growth proceeds, versus 8% favoring the state exercising more control.
  • The opinions of surrounding property owners and local business owners should be given substantial weight as development decisions are made.
  • 55% favored regulation of short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, at the local level, versus
  • 38% who said the industry should be regulated at the state level or not at all.
  • 64% who believe billboard locations and size should be decided at the local level, compared to 28% who favored state or no regulation.

The findings also show that North Carolinians see access to parks, greenways, and walkable neighborhoods extremely important as they decide where to live and raise families, with scenic beauty and the preservation of trees and open spaces even more important.

“There is no question that these results reflect the fact that most North Carolinians see local decision-making as key to ensuring that their visions and aspirations for their neighborhoods and larger communities can be pursued, and that local decision-making with the input of local citizens can help prevent actions that harm their quality of life,” said NCLM Executive Director Rose Vaughn Williams. “These polling results will provide League staff and member cities and towns with a useful tool to help make the case for strong cities and towns the reflect the values of their residents.”

We hope that you can use these findings to help advocate for your city or town.
Here are several of the questions and responses: