The Bible says ask and you shall receive and that’s exactly what happened to the group of state legislators who, on Thursday, March 7, held a town hall meeting at Greensboro City Hall: They asked for input from the public and they sure got what they asked for.
At the “Guilford Legislative Delegation Town Hall,” held in the Greensboro City Council’s meeting room at 300 W. Washington St. in downtown Greensboro, state senators and representatives with constituents in Guilford County heard from citizens on a very wide range of issues.
State Senators Gladys Robinson, Michael Garrett and Jerry Tillman, and state Reps. Cecil Brockman, Ashton Clemmons, Amos Quick, Pricey Harrison and John Faircloth listened for two hours to the speakers, who each got three minutes to make their cases to the legislators.
Faircloth said at the end of the meeting that he’d been coming to town halls for years and years and this was the best one he’d been to.
“Every issue was important,” Faircloth said of the wide range of topics people spoke on at the event.
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and other members of the Greensboro City Council sat in the audience, as did other area elected officials and community leaders.
Unlike some raucous town halls that have been held in other parts of the country, this one was a highly civil affair with no speaker so much as raising his or her voice, and with almost all the speakers presenting a well-rehearsed speech to the legislators.
The concerns that citizens spoke on included a need for more state funding of public schools, concern over the way illegal immigrants are being treated in the county and the state, and a desire for the elected leaders to support legislation that strengthens the laws against distracted driving. Other citizens expressed concern over the destruction of the state’s environment and a lack of affordable health care in North Carolina.
One Guilford County school system employee spoke on the need for higher wages for school bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other “classified” school employees. He said a recent 2 percent raise was welcome but wasn’t enough.
“Two percent of nothing is 2 percent of nothing, which is zero,” he said.
Vicki White-Lawrence, the president of the League of Women Voters of Guilford County, spoke on a need to overhaul the mental health delivery system in North Carolina.
“Our mental health system is broken and must be improved,” she said. “Residents have died because of the state of mental health care.”
The state legislators all seemed to listen intently to the issues presented and, at the end of the meeting, several said they would take the citizens’ input with them back to Raleigh.