Roger Coleman

Title: Council Member

Municipality: Town of Edenton

Position Interested In: District Representative - District 1

Tell us why you would like to serve in a leadership position at the League. In particular, specify goals you would like to accomplish as an officer or board member and indicate how, if attained, they will help to achieve Vision 2030 – the League’s future vision of how cities and towns will operate in 2030.

I can remember a church many years ago that did not allow women to preside at the communion service. That is until the men started to die off and survival of the church was dependent on placing women in leadership positions. We will go to great lengths to keep from dying, even change, but it is often too late.

I believe that the North Carolina League of Municipalities can intervene and assist communities, like Edenton and other towns that are losing population and the ability to fund infrastructure projects and needed services, with lifesaving resources.

I have read and continue to read the NCLM Vision Statement 2030: Building North Carolina, one hometown at a time.
I have looked specifically at the 10 Key Challenges included in the Vision Statement. While all are important, there are several that are most relevant to my concerns - #2, #3 and #6.

Number 2 has to do with the state legislators who, in many cases, seem to put their commitment to lobbyists ahead of their responsibilities as representative of people in a geographical area. It seems as if the NCLM is always having to put out warnings against legislation that would reduce local control on zoning and other issues, removal of trees for example.

Number 3 relates to the continued population decline in rural areas that further reduces ability to fund needed services. Addressing the potential for halting this loss is an issue I would like to learn more about so that I can be more effective in presenting alternatives.

Number 6, the need for greater county/town collaboration, is another area I would like to address as I see services dwindle in the midst of duplications. Public water systems and police protection are two of the areas with potential for greater cooperation and cost saving measures for our communities.

There is another challenge not listed in the “10 Key Challenges” - the issue of workforce housing. Chowan County, and to a greater extent, Dare County has seen tremendous growth in non-owner occupied housing. This, along with a steep rise in housing prices makes it difficult to attract teachers, police officers and other professionals. Making this an even greater need is that, in Edenton, many of our major corporations have been receiving building reuse improvement funding based on a commitment to hiring new staff. One company plans to hire 50 new employees in the next year. Unfortunately, we have no place for those employees to live.

I look forward to working on these concerns along with promoting the educational and informational resources that have been so helpful to me over the past few years. Everyone wants to have a hopeful future.

Tell us about your experience as a municipal official. You may want to include information on your service on the municipal governing body, other related boards and special areas of interest.

I have been fortunate to have had my first experience as an elected official be as a member of the Edenton Town Council. The Council is led by a Town Manager with an elected mayor and six elected representatives. I am one of two at-large members. The other four represent districts. Part of my good fortune was the opportunity to serve for the first two years with a Town Manager of 33 years, Ms. Anne-Marie Knighton. Ms. Knighton was exceptionally talented in keeping council members informed and in assisting newcomers with adjusting to their roles. In addition, we have a council that works well together without the divisions some town councils face. It is a non-partisan group. When Ms. Knighton retired last year, we went through a lengthy process to find a new manager. Our current manager, Corey Gooden, was eventually hired by unanimous consent. Also, in recent weeks, the council voted unanimously to relocate the Confederate Monument that now sits at the entrance to Edenton’s waterfront.

The primary disagreements we have, and I am often the odd man out on these, are conflicts between developers wanting to rezone residential areas for commercial purposes. Also, like other tourist towns, the issue of whole house airbnbs in residential areas has been a concern.

Because of my training and background, I tend to view towns not only as economic entities but as places of human interaction where all residents need and deserve to feel accepted and valued. Promoting strong neighborhoods that offer security and support are part of this equation. I sometimes feel like a dinosaur, but I continue to fight against those who believe that the only purpose of a community is to make money from each other.

In the past few years, I have worked to create several new town commissions and organizations – the Human Relations Commission; the Mayor’s Task Force on Litter Prevention, Recycling, and the Environment; and the Edenton Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force. I am now working on ways to create additional housing to meet our workforce and essential housing needs.

I campaigned for office unopposed. When I choose to retire, I’m hoping that there will be a line at the Election Board’s office of those waiting to seek my seat. I am always trying to make public service appear that exciting.

Tell us about your educational background, professional experience, and/or community or civic activities. 

I am a retired clergyman (Christian Church - Disciples of Christ) with over 40 years of experience directing not-for-profit, community service organizations. A native of Raleigh, I was not fortunate enough to attend one of our state universities. I attended seminary at Texas Christian University and have a doctorate in theology with a specialty in community development. I also have a M.Ed. in counseling psychology (University of Missouri).

Since coming to Edenton, I have served as director of the local food pantry, Vice-President of the Chowan Community Foundation, a member of the Kadesh A.M.E. Zion Church Restoration Committee, a founding member of Edenton Cares and a Vestry member at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Currently, I am beginning my third year as one of two at-large council members on the Edenton Town Council.

I am experience-oriented and continue to say “yes” to those opportunities that offer the potential for new insights and new relationships. I look forward to serving on the NCLM Board of Directors if given that opportunity.

 

Have You Participated in Any NCLM Events or Committees? 

  • CityVision Annual Conference

  • Town & State Dinner or Town Hall Days

  • Legislative Goals Planning Events or Process

  • Legislative Policy Committee

Please provide any other information you would like the Nominations Committee to consider.

I appreciate this opportunity to be considered as the District 1 representative on the League of Municipalities Board of Directors. I am new to the political arena and have had to depend greatly on NCLM resources to increase my skill level and to become an effective leader in a political setting.

It has fallen on me to represent Edenton at many of the education and information sharing opportunities provided by the League. These, along with regularly reading NCLM weekly updates and reports, have resulted in additional benefits for our community and valuable opportunities to join with other towns and cities to support the League’s priorities. I especially appreciate NCLM’s willingness to lobby the General Assembly in support of local control of zoning and development issues and will continue to support local decision-making priorities in the future.

In addition to Edenton and Chowan County, I have connections with other towns in District 1. We have a second home in Buxton (Dare County) where our daughter is living. She is employed as an activity specialist at the Dare County Fessenden Community Center in Buxton. I have, on occasion, also been assisting a church in Robersonville (Martin County) with Sunday services until a new pastor is hired.

To consider the diverse challenges that our small towns are facing in northeastern North Carolina can be overwhelming. As a new Board member, however, I will work to ensure that others in District 1 have the same opportunities and knowledge that I and the Town of Edenton have received through NCLM. Thank you for your consideration.

Letter of Endorsement