WASHINGTON, D.C. – Alexander County Commissioners Ryan Mayberry and Larry Yoder, along with County Manager Rick French, joined more than 125 county officials from North Carolina and representatives from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) at the National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Almost 2,000 county leaders from across the United States came together to debate national policy and conduct NACo business at the event, which was held February 29 to March 4.
President Donald J. Trump addressed county leaders and pledged that his administration will continue to be a “friend, partner, ally and resource” to America’s county governments.
In addition to President Trump, conference participants heard from:
• U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson
• U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt
• U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.)
• U.S. Representative John Katko (R-N.Y.)
• U.S. Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.)
• General Colin L. Powell, former Secretary of State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
• Robert Redfield, M.D., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director
“The NACo Legislative Conference is a tremendous opportunity to become better informed about issues facing counties across the country, while networking with colleagues,” said Ryan Mayberry, Chairman of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners. “This conference provides an avenue for us to interact with federal officials and express our needs and concerns. This year’s event was extremely informative and worthwhile.”
“Federal decisions have direct and long-lasting impacts on county government,” said NACo President Mary Ann Borgeson. “This conference is an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with our federal partners as we share our own best practices with one another.”
County officials visited Capitol Hill, meeting with senators and representatives. The conference featured three briefings on Capitol Hill: one on the intersection of health and justice in county jails; one on the county role in elections; and another on county priorities in transportation and infrastructure legislation.
There were more than two dozen policy workshops featuring county officials and other leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. They focused on topics like the opioid crisis, early childhood investments, workforce and economic development, transportation and infrastructure, public health and safety, mental health and jails, and cybersecurity and technology.
During the conference, NCACC President Kevin Austin offered an amendment to a policy resolution considered by the NACo Community Economic and Workforce Development Steering Committee. Austin’s amendment, which calls on Congress to strengthen the county role in federal workforce development programs, passed unanimously. The measure helps advance President Austin’s Pathways initiative, which seeks to equip counties to lead local youth toward a meaningful and sustainable future.
NCACC Second Vice President Tracey Johnson, Chair of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, participated in a panel discussion about the increasing national suicide rate and rural hospital closings. NCACC Executive Director Kevin Leonard also spoke on a panel to discuss state policy trends on various issues affecting counties such as the opioid crisis, broadband expansion, and property tax limitations and exclusions. Also during the conference, NCACC Past President and Person County Commissioner Ray Jeffers was elected to serve as the South Region representative on NACo’s Executive Committee.
County officials also had the opportunity to meet with North Carolina’s Congressional leaders to update them on federal priorities for counties for 2020, including NCACC’s top goal – expanding broadband access.
The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) is the official voice of all 100 counties on issues considered by the General Assembly, Congress, and federal and state agencies. The Association provides expertise to counties in the areas of advocacy, research, risk management, and education and leadership training. Learn more at www.ncacc.org.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo assists America’s 3,069 counties in pursuing excellence in public service to produce healthy, vibrant, safe and resilient counties. NACo promotes sound public policies, fosters county solutions and innovation, promotes intergovernmental and public-private collaboration and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. Learn more at www.naco.org.