The Many Who Govern
" North Carolina is my home!" More than 6.5 million people make this claim along with cbs news personality Charles Kuralt, one of the state's most illustrious native sons. 1 The many homes are situated in a wide variety of settings, from tobacco farms in rural Pitt and Wilson counties to the fashionable districts of Myers Park in Charlotte and Buena Vista in Winston- Salem. From the mountains in Ashe County to the seacoast at Long Beach, citizens across the state are making demands on, paying taxes to, and receiving services from local governments.
When North Carolinians turn on the water for their morning coffee and daily showers, what public official touches their lives? When they take out the trash to be picked up before leaving for work, who is responsible for the collection? The roads on which they drive to work or the buses they take to school are due, in part, to the decisions of which politicians? And who decides on the taxes that are used to create and maintain the neighborhood school for the children or the city parks, where the par course is available for keeping fit? Those beautiful flowers that grace the corner of a major intersection or the street cleaner who makes the weekly rounds to keep the area tidy—who's in charge? Finally, who records the deed for your new home, the birth of a new baby, or the death of a loved one? Which local officials are responsible for the myriad of services that each of us receives every day as our communities are made livable? 2 Often the persons are local government officials: mayors, council members, department heads in city and town governments; managers, commissioners, and civil servants in county governments; school board members, superintendents, and school principals in the elementary and secondary schools.
These governments also provide numerous opportunities for citizens to