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Opinion | Navigating a global pandemic at the local level

Social distancing, flatten the curve, contact tracing, PPE, zoom fatigue … these are some of the terms that have become part of our daily vernacular since mid-March. COVID-19 has upended lives and livelihoods and caused significant economic disruption throughout Alabama, particularly at the local level. Yet, even with the unprecedented challenges we’re all now facing, in my 24 years with the Alabama League of Municipalities, I have never been more enthusiastic about our mission or the future of our cities and towns.

Municipalities are the foundation of our state – providing the essential resources and services that foster safe, vibrant spaces for business to thrive and citizens to live, work and play. In the League’s 85-year history, we have seen time after time that Alabama is resilient. Its people are determined, innovative and ready to begin again – particularly at the local level. Alabama is facing historic economic loss and extended challenges to our many public systems; however, the League will continue to work proactively with its membership and diligently with Governor Ivey, her administration, state and national lawmakers as well as state agencies and our many strategic partners and stakeholders to support and guide Alabama’s communities as they navigate these uncertain times.

On June 1 we were excited to announce that we have expanded and restructured our staff. Kayla Bass was promoted from Public Affairs Associate to Director of External Affairs where she will work to promote League legislative positions through the development and implementation of grassroots campaigns and specific advocacy strategies. Bryan Parker joined the League with an impressive economic development background from his years with PowerSouth Energy and former Congressman Jo Bonner. Baker Allen joined our team from the Governor’s Office with extensive policy development skills, including substantial knowledge on issues that are vital to local governments such as broadband development, environmental regulation and Opportunity Zones. Kayla, Bryan and Baker will be working in unison to enhance our outreach and services while ensuring we remain a steadfast and reliable resource for our members, the Legislature, our congressional delegation and strategic partners.

Our 22-member staff has a wealth of institutional knowledge – from advocacy to educational outreach to legal expertise on municipal government. We understand and respond to the unique complexities faced by our state’s municipal officials and employees.

As current events have challenged and compromised our country, our state, our local governments, public health structure, business community, school systems, medical community and emergency responders, the Alabama League of Municipalities has been at the forefront daily to provide the best representation, resources and guidance available to those leading at the local level. We will continue to work strategically and intentionally with local, state and national organizations, agencies, stakeholders and partners to gather accurate, transparent revenue loss data; ensure municipal authority remains intact; advocate on behalf of Alabama’s municipalities at the state and congressional levels, particularly regarding stimulus funding; as well as distribute critical information to cities and towns regarding this unprecedented pandemic and the many resulting statewide orders.

While we may not know what “normal” will be following COVID-19, we do know that Alabama’s municipalities must continue to provide critical services to its citizens daily. Strong, proactive local government matters now more than ever.


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