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This series of short webinars provides essential tips, tools, and definitions to help local elected leaders take on their leadership responsibilities.  Each 75-minute webinar introduces a specific topic or tool and explores the top ten things that elected leaders need to know about that topic.  Each webinar is conducted as a live remote class, recorded, and then uploaded here as an on-demand offering.  There is no charge for these on-demand offerings, however you will need to register here.  Once registered, your recording will be sent in your confirmation email. Explore the topics below by clicking to access the free on-demand webinars at the bottom of this page.

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Ethics for Local Elected Officials

Under North Carolina law, members of governing boards of cities, counties, local boards of education, unified governments, sanitary districts, and consolidated city-counties are required to receive at least two (2) clock hours of ethics training within twelve months after each election or appointment to office. The ethics training requirement is an ongoing obligation, triggered by each subsequent re-election or reappointment to office.

This online training will satisfy the 2 clock hours of local ethics training required by state law for elected and appointed officials. This training MUST be completed within 12 months of election day and is required every time they are re-elected or appointed and reappointed to a local office.

Top 10 Primer: Employment Law for Local Elected Officials

Local elected officials play important roles in the employment of our public workforce. They establish the local government’s personnel policies, they develop pay and benefit plans, they sometimes may even serve in “supervisor-like” roles, depending on the organizational framework of their unit of government.

As an elected official, you do not need to be experts in these areas but you need to be sufficiently aware of the applicable laws to know how to ask the right questions of the right people at the right time. In this class, you will gain a basic understanding of the employment laws that apply to local governments. You will become more conversant with the employment issues that affect our local government workforce and explore the role of the elected body in assuring that the laws are being followed

Top 10 Primer: Engaging the Community in Public Issues

This virtual workshop explores how to engage more of your community in discussions about important public issues. Participants will learn tips and tools that foster robust community engagement, create relationships reflective of the diversity of their communities, and provide opportunities for people to feel heard and valued.

Top 10 Primer: Financial Responsibility of Local Elected Officials Webinar

Adoption of the county or municipal budget is one of the most important responsibilities of an elected board. Understanding the local government budget development process can be challenging, especially for officials in their first terms of office. This webinar, led by faculty members Greg Allison and Bill Rivenbark, will help elected officials learn the “Top Ten” most important factors to know and understand as you enter the fiscal year budget development season, including understanding your roles and responsibilities related to the arena of local government finance.

Top 10 Primer: Gifts, Favors, and Conflicts of Interest

Elected officials are often bombarded with good will! Sometimes, that good will takes the form of gifts, most unsolicited but no less problematic. What’s an elected official to do? In this Top 10 Primer, faculty member Crista Cuccaro offers important points for elected officials to know about the legal and ethical boundaries of conflicts of interest, and accepting gifts and favors.

Topics include: What is a conflict of interest? How does NC law define gifts and favors? When can you accept a gift or favor and when should you politely decline? Do contracts make a difference? What is the difference between a financial interest and a direct benefit? What does it mean to have a Duty to Vote?  What do federal rules say regarding gifts, favors, and financial interests?

Top 10 Primer: Land Use, Planning, and Zoning for Local Elected Officials

As a local elected official, you are called on to make a lot of hard decisions. Some of those decisions are about land use planning and zoning, either of which can greatly affect your community’s quality of life. This part of your role in governing can engender a great deal of public input and advice: “If you run water and sewer lines to that area, developers will be knocking on our doors!” OR “I could build 500 houses in that field—just think of all the property taxes that would generate!” AND “Put the jail next to the landfill—that land is cheaper, and DOT will widen the road!”

These decisions are fraught with competing public values. Elected officials must be able to think strategically—about Every. Single. Decision. And in the midst of all these decisions comes new legislation!

Top 10 Primer: Managing Conflicts on Elected Boards: A Roundtable Discussion by Local Elected Officials

In this Top 10 Primer on Managing Conflicts on Elected Boards: A Roundtable Discussion by Local Elected Officials, SOG Faculty expert John B. Stephens will moderate a discussion among municipal and county alumni of the SOG’s Advanced Leadership Corps. Stephens’ fields of expertise include public dispute resolution, mediation and facilitation. He is co-author of Reaching for Higher Ground: Tools for Powerful Groups.

Top 10 Primer: Municipal Zoning Authority: How Jim Crow Era Laws & Policies Shaped NC’s Cities and Towns

Barely a generation after the Founding Fathers developed our Constitution, America faced a schism that shaped the development of North Carolina’s cities and towns for generations – through post-Civil War Reconstruction, two World Wars, and into the 1960’s.

In this LELA 201 level workshop, participants will explore some of the Jim Crow-era laws and policies that affected municipal zoning in cities and towns all across North Carolina. You will learn about and reflect on the interconnected-ness of municipal zoning and the growth and development of our cities, towns and counties. The workshop highlights the complexities of mid-20th Century race-based laws and policies that affected how and where our state’s communities grew.

Workshop participants will gain a deeper understanding of how this complex history continues to impact many of the inter-connected public problems, issues and challenges our local governments, school systems and others still strive to overcome today.

Top 10 Primer: School Funding Process for Local Elected Officials

In this workshop, participants will learn about the local funding process for public schools. Topics include local revenue sources, county and school budgeting processes, appropriations for operating and capital expenses, minimum funding levels, transfers to charter schools, and the dispute resolution process. We will also examine the relationship between county boards of commissioners and local school boards, identifying the roles and responsibilities of each in this shared governance model.

Top 10 Primer: Seeking Diversity: How Do We Do It Today?

The comfortable patterns of our daily lives can lull us into believing we have a good handle on what others think about current community challenges. In this short course local elected officials map their daily interactions with others and learn how to broaden their nets of input into public issues.

Local government elected officials will assess the extent to which the diversity in their lives aligns with the diversity in their communities, consider how social changes related to civic engagement affect their efforts to seek diverse public participation, and devise concrete strategies for increasing diversity in civic engagement.    

Top 10 Primer: Social Media Use for Local Elected Officials

Does your use of social media change once the campaign is over and you begin to govern? The answer to that question can be complex. Adding to the complexity is the ever-present likelihood that some of your “communicators” are bots located anywhere around the globe. What is your responsibility as an elected official? What are best practices for using social media to communicate with the public without violating the First Amendment?

The rules and practicalities of social media use for local elected officials are different from those for ordinary citizen. In this 75-minute class you’ll learn about some bright lines of good and bad practices, and improve your awareness of some of the murky areas around free speech and the First Amendment.

Topics include: Is your social media platform public or private?, First Amendment issues, Blocking users and deleting comments, Government transparency, Retention requirements, Ethics and social media.

Top 10 Primer: Tips and Tools for a Successful Strategic Plan

Elected officials and managers are introduced to basic strategic planning concepts and processes. Participants learn how to think long term about available resources and priorities, and gain useful tips and tools for making strategic planning efforts successful.

Top 10 Primer: Transportation Planning in North Carolina

To many local officials the State’s planning processes for building our paved infrastructure can seem like a true enigma. The NC Department of Transportation provides opportunities for local input through a network of planning organizations across the state; these organizations provide local governments a way to provide input into comprehensive plans for our State-administered highway system.

In this Top 10 Primer, participants will learn about the Department of Transportation structure, funding, and planning processes. The roles of the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Rural Transportation Planning Organizations (RTPOs) will be explained and anticipated future statewide transportation needs will be explored.

Top 10 Primer: What Local Elected Officials Need to Know About Public Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services in North Carolina

According to the National Institute for Mental Illness, almost 20% of the US adult population suffers from a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. For the adolescent ages of 13-18, that number rises to almost 50%. Individuals and family members in need of help often call on their local elected officials when they are searching for help, and in this area of need, they’re often just looking for a door – a local place where they can walk in and get help. Where are these doors in your communities?

An important role for local elected officials is to simply know enough about how the publicly funded system is structured to be able to respond when someone asks you for help. You want to know how your town or county agencies can and do often affect outcomes for people with mental health needs. These issues affect the quality of life in your communities, and often, the doors people find are to your Police Department, the emergency room at the hospital, the homeless shelter, or even the public school nurse, in the case of adolescents.

Top 10 Primer: Worker Recruitment and Retention in Local Government

This Top 10 Primer session covers ten evidence-based tactics local governments can use to attract and retain the best employees. The tactics are based on workplace climate data from the School of Government Local Government Workplaces Initiative and the latest social science research. Attendees will come away with strategies for creating workplaces known for their positive and healthy workplace cultures.