Karen Alexander named second vice president of NC League of Municipalities

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 23, 2019

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — Salisbury City Council member Karen Alexander was elected the second vice president of the North Carolina League of Municipalities on May 16.

Alexander will join Washington City Council member William Pitt, the president, and Cary City Council member Jennifer Robinson, the first vice president, along with the past president Michael Lazzara, Jacksonville’s mayor pro tem.

Alexander will begin her term as second vice president in June. The term is one year.

“It’s an honor, Alexander said. “It’s a responsibility that I take very seriously.”

Alexander has been serving as a member of the league’s board of directors since 2016. She also is on a building plan committee tasked with rebuilding an office for the organization after the campus was burned down in a 2017 downtown Raleigh fire.

Her experience as an architect and a developer set her apart and gave her application to be a member of the executive committee a boost, she explained, especially because it’s not a paid position. She said it is a financially significant project to rebuild the campus as the organization celebrates 109 years.

Alexander has worked with Robinson and Lazzara on the building plan committee. She joined Pitt in a spring campaign at the General Assembly to advocate for the Historic Preservation Act of 2019.

House Bill 399 would delay the sunset of tax credits for the historic rehabilitation for 10 years and increase the tax credit for rehabbing historic structures. The League went to Raleigh to speak with Rep. Stephen Ross, R-63, who drafted the bill, along with Rep. Harry Warren, R-76, a primary sponsor.

Historic tax credits are paramount to going forward and transforming empty building, like hotels and textile mills.

“We really help the legislators understand the economic development that cities are,” Alexander said.

The League’s goals mirror the goals of Salisbury, Alexander said. Along with historic tax credits, the organization wants municipalities to have access to broadband. Alexander said Salisbury is lucky to have broadband citywide, but understands that the city is a decade or more ahead of the time.

She said the League of Municipalities know how important economic opportunities are and how vital it is for all citizens to have access to internet. In the General Assembly, two bills that address broadband, House Bill 387: Electric Co-Op Rural Broadband Services and House Bill 398: Growing GREAT-Rural Broadband Funding.

“The purpose is to be the unifying voice for legislators in Raleigh,” Alexander said.

Alexander said when the General Assembly is not in session, the League of Municipalities continues to work toward its statewide goals, like working with he Electric Power Suppliers to transition from old lightbulbs to LED bulbs.

The executive committee meets regularly and is expected to go into overdrive if the legislators are working toward something that has significant consequences for cities. They also will advocate for smaller communities that don’t have the resources to advocate for issues.

Alexander called the new executive committee’s members outstanding individuals with a lot to offer.

She looks forward to serving “for the benefit of the cities” as the second vice president, she said.

Salisbury City Manager Lane Bailey congratulated Alexander for her election to the NCLM at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Salisbury is a member of the North Carolina League of Municipalities.