Sen. Lazzara, Rep. Bell are NCLM’s 2022 Community Champions

BEN BROWN, NCLM Communications and Multimedia Strategist

Honor recognizes legislators’ work representing the needs of cities and towns.

Sen. Michael Lazzara and Rep. John Bell have been named this year’s Community Champions for their work understanding and representing the needs of cities and towns. The awards were presented at CityVision 2022 during the NCLM President’s Dinner and Awards Ceremony held April 28 at the Wilmington Convention Center.

Senator Lazzara of Jacksonville is more than a familiar face around the League. He served an extended term as League president while mayor pro tem of Jacksonville, emceed numerous events and conference sessions for gatherings of municipalities, oversaw various internal and external issues on the League’s board of directors, and spent valuable time with mayors, council members, and appointed municipal staffers to absorb just how diverse North Carolina’s array of cities and towns actually is.

“Over this past year, [Senator Lazzara] played a critical role in helping cities and towns achieve legislative priorities across a range of policy areas—from infrastructure funding to public safety reform to working for flexible land-use policies that make sense for cities and towns,” said NCLM Immediate Past President Karen Alexander, the Mayor of Salisbury, who presented the senator the award.

“It’s been a tremendous ride this last year serving as your senator,” Senator Lazzara said at CityVision. “And what I will tell you is that I always promised that if I made it this far, I would always remember cities and towns. Because cities and towns, to me, have always been a passion.”

“You are where the rubber hits the road,” he told the audience of municipal officials.

Representative Bell of Goldsboro, who was unable to attend the conference, “was an instrumental person when it came to securing funding for cities and towns related to making our communities more resilient in the face of storms and other natural disasters, as well as addressing the water and sewer needs of so many of our towns across the state,” Mayor Alexander said.

She added that cities and towns had a tremendous legislative session in 2021, particularly as it related to support for infrastructure spending, pandemic response, and addressing public safety priorities.

“The two state legislators (Senator Lazzara and Representative Bell) played key roles in assisting cities and towns achieve those outcomes,” Mayor Alexander said.