RALEIGH —Laurinburg officials got a chance to push issues important to the city during last week’s Town Hall Day at the North Carolina General Assembly.
The annual event is sponsored by the North Carolina League of Municipalities. More than 500 local officials attended the event held at the Legislative Building.
Council member Dee Hammond called the visit a “premier opportunity for mayors, council members and city managers to visit with legislators and make their views known.”
“It is a great way for us to get to know them and for them to know us,” Hammond said. “We also have an opportunity to see and meet with officials with other municipalities too.”
Also attending the day of grassroots lobbying were Laurinburg Council members Mary Jo Adams and Drew Williamson and Laurinburg City Manager Charles Nichols.
City officials said topics of conversation included transportation, workforce and sales tax revenue.
Unlike recent years, when municipal officials were urging lawmakers to back off bills to override local zoning decisions or shift control of assets such as airports and water systems, league members would be stressing “what municipal government brings to the table.”
The League also stressed that cities and towns do best when they’re allowed to manage their own affairs.
“Give us the ability to govern our own municipal governments,” said the League’s 2nd vice president, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara of Jacksonville. “That’s the general message we want to communicate and advocate for.”
Still, Nichols said the day’s agenda was more focused on building goodwill than making any specific requests.
“It is a great opportunity to network and we took advantage of that,” he said.
The Laurinburg group met with state Sen. Tom McInnis and state Reps. Garland Pierce and Ken Goodman.
While the controversial House Bill 2 dealing with the use of bathrooms by transgender individuals was not on the agenda, several municipal leaders shared their thoughts with lawmakers.
“The league’s position is it takes away from local authority,” said League 1st Vice President Bob Matheny, mayor of Zebulon.
According to Matheny, provisions in the bill override local decisions on nondiscrimination ordinances and minimum wage. He said each individual official or city may have a viewpoint on the right way to handle LGBT and other issues, but generally said that decision should be left to local governments.
“It’s very obvious North Carolina is being hurt. I was recently in San Antonio, Texas, and that’s all that anyone there wanted to talk about.”
Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023. The Associated Press contributed to this report