Speaking Out: NCLM Is Its Members

William Harris, NCLM President

Over several weeks in March and April, NCLM took its Town & State Dinner on the road, hosting five regional events across the state rather than our more traditional single event in Raleigh.

The events, of which two I had the pleasure to serve as NCLM host, presiding officer and sort of emcee, showed the truly remarkable nature that a simple meal and conversation can have when it comes to human understanding and relationship-building. While I and other League officers, along with one or two legislators and a host city mayor, offered brief comments at each, the real star of the show was the bonding that took place over breaking bread.

You could see it in the close conversations at the tables, in the lingering photo-taking and more talk as the meal was finished, and in the smiles and good-byes as municipal officials and legislators departed.

As my term begins as president of the North Carolina League of Municipalities, these events were a shining example of the importance of the involvement of every one of you—the elected and appointed municipal officials of this state—in this organization. My greatest hope over the next year is that we can expand that involvement, that more cities and towns and their local representatives will become more involved in NCLM, and that we allow more officials in cities and towns to see its importance in establishing benefits that accrue to residents of each.

A key strength of North Carolina is the diversity of its cities and towns, and the rich array of small, medium-sized, and larger municipalities. No one city or town is alike, regardless of its size, the economic fabric, the demographics, or the topography. Yes, we all have common aspirations for a solid economy, strong community connections and vibrant quality of life for residents, but our diversity and distinct community visions act as a strength.

And nowhere is that more important than in our relationships with state legislators and other state officials.

We enhance that strength through the involvement of more cities and towns, and their elected and appointed officials. Participation in events like the Town and State Dinner, but also through trainings and services offered by NCLM, are crucial not just to our state advocacy, but in making our towns and cities better places for our residents. Creating strong examples of those benefits serves to only spread the news.

Obviously, as we progress into 2024, NCLM has other challenges as well.

Continuing to advance the use and redevelopment of the League campus in downtown Raleigh in the best way possible remains a crucial aspect of the organization’s future. The decisions that we make will prove to be critical to our finances going forward, and I look forward to those discussions moving forward to ensure that we remain well-grounded from a business standpoint.

Finally, as a longtime member of the NCLM Board of Directors and through my involvement in the organization over the years, I know that this organization is in the best place that it may have ever been. Our advocacy and services are as robust and as effective as ever.

Part of my charge as president, and that of all of our board and members, is to be a strong caretaker of the organization, to ensure that we continue on this path of working effectively together for the better of each of our cities and towns individually and for our state collectively.

As I said in my swearing-in address at our CityVision conference, the League is embarking on what I believe will be a defining and monumental chapter in our history. From securing zoning for up to 40 stories on prime downtown Raleigh real estate, to an historic infusion of ARPA funds from our state legislature to help our towns and cities reach their full potential, to solidifying and building upon our relationships on both sides of the aisle, we should all be excited!

When the League calls, that phone is answered, and when the League knocks, doors get opened. As your new president, I want to protect our brand, extend our influence, and grow our ranks.