Taking the Field: Proud to Lead, Excited for the Future

Rose Vaughn Williams, NCLM Executive Director

As the new Executive Director of the North Carolina League of Municipalities, I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to serve a group I find awe-inspiring: the cities and towns of North Carolina.

It’s a collection easy to be proud of. The work happening in each of our hometowns is nothing short of remarkable. There are of course the towering achievements that attract a steady influx of both new residents and industries to North Carolina each year. But there is also, more importantly, the routine work—unheralded, reliable, and out of the public eye. The former does not happen without the latter. From water to public safety to sanitation to infrastructure, it is this work that provides the necessary foundation for our residents’ quality of life and our state’s sustained growth.

These efforts have a huge payoff. Cities and towns are undoubtedly the economic engine of our state. More than 89% of North Carolina’s population rely on local government-run water and wastewater utilities, more than 70% of the state’s retail sales occur in municipalities, and a vast majority of North Carolinians live and work in municipal boundaries. Businesses, downtowns, industrial parks, technology hubs, and new entrepreneurial ventures—all of these are built atop the services provided by our local governments.

The people leading these efforts are tireless and public-service oriented. Look no further than the leadership on display over the past two years. Facing immense, unforeseeable challenges, our local governments forged ahead, ensuring that our citizens, businesses, and communities were supported through each new obstacle of the pandemic and resulting fiscal crisis. Through both the emergency and the ongoing recovery, that leadership has not wavered.

Just as our local leaders have maintained a devoted commitment to their communities through these trying times, so too, are we committed to supporting our local leaders. It is our steadfast mission.

In the field, League representatives are just a phone call away to help with financial concerns, legal questions, HR consulting, insurance and risk management, services for police and fire, and many other much-needed programs. Both online and in-person, we offer education courses that address the ever-changing landscape of municipal government. And at the N.C. General Assembly, having just concluded a tremendously successful legislative session, we are continually and effectively speaking for the interests of municipalities. These results are critical, and due directly to the advocacy work of our members, our Board of Directors, and our dedicated Government Affairs staff.

Elected and appointed officials alike rely on the League to be their voice, to share information, and to lend a hand when needed. And now, as our local leaders shoulder the heavy responsibilities and challenges brought on by the pandemic, they face the important decision-making for how to spend federal American Rescue Plan funds across our state. I am confident that cities and towns will make long-lasting and meaningful decisions for their cities—all while taking the necessary and careful requisite accounting and reporting steps. We will continue to be there by your side, truly demonstrating our motto of “Working as one. Advancing all.”