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McFarlane will chair urban mayors group

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane will chair the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, a bipartisan group representing the mayors of the state’s 28 largest cities, The N&O's Matt Garfield reports.

The panel was founded by Gov.-elect Pat McCrory during his tenure as mayor of Charlotte.

The post gives McFarlane a visible statewide role on issues facing North Carolina's urban centers, particularly economic development, taxes, transportation and public safety.

White changes mind about Charlotte gig

A few days after announcing a new job as Raleigh lobbyist for the city of Charlotte, Julie White has returned to her old post as lobbyist for all of the state’s largest cities.

White, a veteran communications strategist, had accepted the job of intergovernmental relations manager for Charlotte on Jan. 11, with a goal of improving relations between the state’s biggest city and state government, Bruce Siceloff reports. She had planned to work mostly from Raleigh — unlike her Charlotte-based predecessor Boyd Cauble, who retired in December.

She was supposed to start work Monday. Instead, after spending last week in Charlotte, she told Curt Walton, Charlotte city manager, that she had changed her mind. The job would require her to take too much time away from her husband and three children, she said.

"After spending the week in Charlotte it has become apparent to me that to succeed as the City's Intergovernmental Relations Manager, I would have to spend more time in Charlotte than I can personally commit because of family obligations," White said in an e-mail to Walton.

White was back at her old job in Raleigh this week as director of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, which represents the state's biggest 26 cities.

White previously worked as a communications and policy adviser for then-Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker, then-House Majority Leader Phil Baddour and then-State Treasurer Richard Moore. She worked on Moore's campaign for governor in 2008.

In Charlotte, Walton has started looking again for a new lobbyist.

Foy passes on Senate run

Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy has decided not to seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate next year.

Foy, 53, had been exploring a Senate bid for several months as he prepares to end his tenure as mayor of the college town, reports Rob Christensen.

He said his decision was as much personal as it was political.

"I've been in elective office for 12 years," Foy said. "I felt I wanted to do something new. It didn't involve a campaign and didn't involve another office. It was not something I wanted to do right now."

Foy, a law professor at N.C. Central University in Durham, has been active in a number of liberal causes. He was co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns along with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and he was a member of Mayors for Peace, which advocates abolition of nuclear weapons. He is chairman of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, a group of the mayors of the state's 26 largest cities.

There are already two Democratic Senate candidates: Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Chapel Hill attorney Kenneth Lewis. Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham of Lexington is expected to join the race shortly.

Price has changes in staff

Beau Mills, a veteran of state and local government, has gone to work as the new district director for 4th District Democratic Congressman David Price.

Mills replaces Rose Auman, who is retiring after nearly 12 years as Price's district director, Rob Christensen reports.

Mills is well known in government circles. He has worked as an advisor to former Gov. Jim Hunt, as the executive director of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition and most recently as a partner at Fountainworks, a public policy and market research firm in Raleigh.

Price also announced the hiring of Andrew High to be his press secretary. High, a Durham native, has worked the past two years as a press aide to California Congresswoman Linda Sanchez.

He replaces Phil Feagan, who is now attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Mayors: We'll spend stimulus wisely

Nine North Carolina mayors made their case to Barack Obama's top staffers today.

As part of a group of several hundred mayors at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, the mayors heard from the president-elect's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and adviser Valerie Jarrett and transition team adviser David Axelrod.

The group is arguing for more of the federal stimulus package to be spent on local infrastructure, such as schools, water and sewer lines and even municipal Internet access.

Gastonia Mayor Jennie Stultz said that towns and cities would be more accountable for the spending, an argument she said seemed to play well with Obama's team.

"I don't think they're going to hand out a blank check," she said. "I think you've got to show them how you're going to spend it."

The North Carolina mayors will meet with U.S. Sens. Kay Hagan and Richard Burr Monday.

What is the N.C. Metropolitan Coalition?

A group of North Carolina mayors who work together on national and state issues that affect larger cities.

A group of North Carolina mayors who work together on national and state issues that affect larger cities.

The organization began in the 1990s as the N.C. Public Transit Coalition, an advocacy group that focused solely on mass transit in urban areas.

In 2000, it was reconstituted as the Metropolitan Coalition, a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization that focuses on broader issues affecting growing urban areas, including transportation, economic development, downtown revitalization and criminal justice.

To join the coalition, a city must have a population of at least 25,000 and pay a yearly fee based on population that ranges from $2,500 to $15,000.

Under the leadership of Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, who was chairman for the first two years, the coalition expanded from around a dozen cities to 25, including Raleigh and Winston-Salem.

It is based within the N.C. League of Municipalities' Raleigh headquarters and had a staff of two in 2008. That year, it changed its name to the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition.

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