On Thursday, local leaders from beach towns, the City of Wilmington, UNCW and Cape Fear Community College joined New Hanover County Commissioners and newly-elected state leaders for the first meeting of the local officials’ caucus.
Lawmakers heading to Raleigh next week issued a call for city, town, and county authorities to deliver their legislative agenda before the general assembly reconvenes at the end of January.
It was the first official gathering in Wilmington City Council Chambers of state and local leaders representing southeastern North Carolina. And the purpose, says State Senator Thom Goolsby, is to unite local officials and general assembly members across party lines to work for the benefit of New Hanover County.
“If I made any critical error during my first two years in the Senate, it was not reaching out to the people who are in this group this morning. And that is our local officials,” said Goolsby.
Senator Goolsby was flanked by Representatives Ted Davis, Jr., Rick Catlin, and Susi Hamilton. All four talked about their broad legislative focus – including strong bi-partisan support for tax reform.
But party lines became apparent when all three Republicans rattled off their committee assignments. Then Senator Goolsby asked the lone Democrat, Representative Hamilton, if she had anything to add.
“My comments will be short. This has all been very enlightening to me since the Democrats of the House have not yet been given their committee assignments,” said Hamilton.
Representative Catlin jumped in to offer an explanation.
Catlin: “I can make a comment on that…”
Hamilton: “I’d be very interested to hear... Perhaps you can tell me what committees I’m on.”
Catlin: “I don’t know about that…”
Catlin said committee assignments are still tentative and the only reason House Republicans are in the know and Democrats are in the dark is because of the Republican majority.
The Senate is facing similar circumstances, according to Goolsby, since Democrats haven’t yet held their caucus and chosen their leadership.