Years ago, it would be rare for the majority of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to make the journey to a national legislative conference.

However, in recent years, there are usually quite a few commissioners who take the taxpayer funded trip to Washington, DC, where they reportedly do things like connect with federal officials, hear from agency leaders and rub elbows with federal elected leaders.

This year, six Guilford County commissioners made the trip to the National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference – a five-day event held every February in the nation’s capital.

This year it ran from Friday, Feb. 9 to Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Skip Alston, Vice-Chair Carlvena Foster and Commissioners Kay Cashion, Alan Perdue, Pat Tillman and Brandon Gray-Hill all attended.

In addition to being a chance for elected county officials to meet with federal officials and representatives, it’s also a chance to hear from the president and, in some cases, meet him.

This year, like last year, President Joe Biden addressed the group.

“We have more to do, but this year, with your help, we’re making real progress in red counties and blue counties,”  Biden told the county leaders from around the country.

The president also said he was there to help whether they voted for him or not, because he meant it when he promised to be a president for all Americans.

Biden also pointed out that he started his political career as a county councilman and joked that he decided to run for the US Senate because being a county councilman was too hard.

When Alston was asked if the president seemed alert and aware at the conference, Alston laughed and said, “I didn’t stay for that meeting, but I am sure he was.”

Every year, the conference brings together about 2,000 county commissioners and other county officials, largely so they can focus on federal policy issues that affect counties.

Tillman said after attending the conference for the first-time last year that it was very beneficial. He made the point that maintaining wide open lines of communication between counties and the federal government has been especially important in recent years given the large amount of federal money that’s been flowing through counties into local projects.

One goal of the event, according to NACo, is to offer the commissioners “a one-of-a-kind advocacy opportunity to strengthen our intergovernmental partnerships for years to come.”