In the 1939 comedy, it was Mr. Smith who went to Washington, however, in 2019, it was Mr. Branson, Mr. Alston, Mr. Perdue, Mr. Phillips, Ms. Foster and Ms. Cashion who made the trip.

All of the above Guilford County commissioners are attending some or all of the 2019 National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference in Washington DC, an event that brings together about 2,000 county officials in March every year so that those leaders can offer input on federal laws and policies that affect counties across the country.

At the legislative conference, the county commissioners attend policy and educational sessions, meet with elected and appointed federal officials, take part in congressional meetings and lobby for the concerns of counties.

Critics of the NACo trips – and other trips like it that occur every year – argue that the events are mostly a way for county officials to have a nice trip at taxpayer expense.  However, commissioners and other county officials who attend say they work hard at the conferences and they also say the events are a very valuable experience that reap benefits for county residents in the end.

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson, who arrived in Washington DC on Friday, March 1 and will be there until Wednesday, March 6, said a lot of Guilford County commissioners are serving on NACo legislative committees this year, which is why the county is so well represented, with six of nine Guilford County commissioners making it to the 2019 conference.

Branson, who runs a trucking company, serves on the NACo Transportation Steering Committee.  On Monday, March 4 he said one of the goals of that committee is to get more federal funding for local road projects and other transportation infrastructure needs.  He said that, on Saturday, he was in a sunup to sundown meeting on transportation policy.

Commissioner Kay Cashion is extremely active in both the state and national county organizations, and she’s a frequent attendee of the conferences and she serves on numerous committees.  Branson said Cashion had been very active during the week in Washington as she always is at NACo events.

Branson said on Monday, March 4, that he was meeting with fellow North Carolina county commissioners in the evening and, on Tuesday, he added, the NACo contingent was going to Capitol Hill to discuss county interests with legislators.

The chairman said he’d had a chance to eat with Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips while up in Washington, but, so far at least, he’s had no sightings of the president.

“I haven’t seen the Donald,” Branson said.