Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain said a meeting between Gov. Pat McCrory and members of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition last week was short on specifics but was a good start on grappling with some of the Lake Norman area’s problems.
Swain and other members of the Mayors Coalition met with McCrory on March 5 in Raleigh to open discussions about transportation, economic development and other issues pertinent to the state’s 28 largest cities.
Swain, the vice chairman for the organization, said the group also met with House Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate leader Phil Berger and senate transportation committee co-chairs Kathy Harrington and Ronald Rabin.
Swain said there were umbrella discussions about transportation in the state’s metro cities, rather than specific projects.
“Transportation is a huge issue. There are a lot of open-ended questions on transportation financing,” Swain said. “We’ve got problems funding transportation, issues building it, fixing it … the state understands it’s a problem.”
During a private sit down with the coalition’s executive committee, McCrory told the mayors he’s in the “information-gathering mode,” Swain said.
“He was very honest with us,” she said, adding McCrory is wrestling with inherited budget issues as well as how the sequester will affect the state.
“It was very eye-opening, there are not a lot of answers right now,” Swain said of the trip to Raleigh.
Another priority for the coalition is economic development, and Swain said from her discussions, job creation appears to be a focus for McCrory as well. The coalition refers to a study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Mayors that found 81 percent of the state’s economic output is produced in metropolitan areas. Accordingly, Swain said McCrory encouraged the metro mayors to embrace rural neighbors, as issues trickle down from larger municipalities into smaller communities.
“I think for the first time, the metro mayors have a governor who’s one of us, he gets it,” said Swain, noting McCrory was a founding member of the coalition when he was mayor of Charlotte.
“He understands the issues that occur in the municipalities and gets it at the citizen level …our meeting was the first of many and the lines of communication are always going to be open,” she said.
“For the citizens in the metro areas and beyond, I think that’s a pretty big deal.”
Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda
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