RALEIGH — The North Carolina League of Municipalities Board of Directors has established a 14-member task force that will examine practical steps that cities and towns can take to address racial inequities and related issues.

The Task Force on the Impact of City Leaders on Racial Equity held its first meeting on Friday, Nov. 6, establishing a goal of assisting cities in better understanding and improving local policies that affect racial equity.

“Our intent is to identify tangible actions each municipality can take when it comes to these challenges,” said Task Force Co-Chair Jennifer Robinson, who is NCLM president and council member for the Town of Cary. “Specifically, we want to ask and answer the following question: What are the ways NCLM can help our members have the tools and information they need to address racial equity and related issues for their cities and towns?”

Robinson and fellow co-chair Bill Harris, an NCLM board member and member of the Fuquay-Varina Board of Commissioner, will lead the group. Other members include Town of Banner Elk Mayor Brenda Lyerly; Dennis Barber, Mayor, Newport; Michael Bell, Council Member, Wilson; Steve Rao, Council Member, Morrisville; Preston Blakely, Fletcher; Valerie Jones, Mayor Pro-Tem, Sedalia; Bobby Kilgore, Mayor, Monroe; Jeff MacIntosh, Council Member, Winston-Salem; Mark Anthony Middleton, Council Member, Durham; Malcolm Graham, Council Member, Charlotte; Pat Taylor, Mayor, Highlands; and Monica Daniels, Council Member, Greenville.

NCLM Executive Director Paul Meyer expressed gratitude to all members for serving. He noted that cities and towns are best positioned to address primary issues around racial equity.

“Cities and towns have more at stake. Our members – elected officials and staff – see the effects. They have been working toward solutions and are committed to continuing to do so,” Meyer said. “This effort can bring about more widespread change.”

Harris, who co-chairs the task force, said bringing together a cross-section of local leaders from around the state is crucial in finding the best approaches.

“I look at each of us as stakeholders,” Harris told members on Friday. “Hopefully, out of this, we can build the consensus to move forward.”

Staff from the National League of Cities involved in its Race, Equity and Leadership initiative will assist in the task force’s work. The group expects to meet into the spring of 2021, producing recommendations at that time.

The North Carolina League of Municipalities is a member-driven organization representing the interests of cities and towns in the state. Through their collective efforts, League member cities and towns better serve their residents and improve quality of life. For more than 100 years, the League has been a voice for cities and towns working for a better North Carolina.

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