Essentials of County Government


Newly-elected County Commissioners

Congratulations on your successful election as a county commissioner! The UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners have partnered to offer you a crash course on the essentials of county government. In this course, we will introduce newly-elected commissioners to the basic functions of county government and the role of the governing board. In short, we are here to help you successfully transition from campaigning to governing.  


The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners provides cost offsets for county elected officials to attend LELA courses. For information on this discount click here.


What to Expect 

This year we will be conducting the course virtually and will be exploring three themes, one per month. For each theme, participants will be expected to complete 30-60 minutes of pre-work, followed by a 3-4 hour live, interactive session on Zoom. At the conclusion of each session, commissioners will have the opportunity to “ask the expert” to learn more about specific topics of interest.  Take a look at the agenda for the live Zoom sessions HERE.


Theme 1:  County Government: Roles and Responsibilities. Watch a lively mock board meeting to learn the dos and don’ts of working as a board and transacting business in the public spotlight. Through a series of interactive activities, participants also will learn about the roles and responsibilities of the board and individual board members and will explore the board’s relationship to professional staff. Participants will have the opportunity to build essential communication and relationship-building skills to help you interact more effectively within county government and with the legislature, your constituents, and the media.


Theme 2:  Budgets, Fiduciary Duty, & Financial Condition. What are the top-ten financial management principles every county commissioner should know? What are county funding requirements? What should you expect from your first budget process? How does a board carry out its fiduciary duties? The pre-work will present the basics of budgeting and financial management. During the live session, participants will have the opportunity to engage in small group discussions and learn from more experienced commissioners and county staff about how to approach and respond to common financial issues.


Theme 3:  Ethics, Conflicts of Interest, and Open Government. The final theme will focus on important limitations on board members and their legal and ethical responsibilities. Commissioners will explore public records and open meetings requirements and learn practical techniques to operate effectively in an open government environment. During the live session, commissioners will also participate in the statutorily-required 2-hour ethics training.


When Can You Take The Class? 

We are offering two tracks, to maximize opportunities for participation. (You sign up for either Track 1 or Track 2.)

Track 1 Live Session Dates/Times:

  • December 11, 2020, 9:00am-1:00pm
  • January 8, 2021, 9:00am-12:30pm
  • February 26, 2021, 9:00am-1:00pm


Track 2 Live Session Dates/Times:

  • January 22, 2021, 9:00am-1:00pm
  • February 25, 2021, 9:00am-12:30pm
  • March 23, 2021, 9:00am-1:00pm


There will be breaks throughout the live zoom sessions. 


How to Prepare for the Live Zoom Sessions 

Participants will be given access to pre-work 3-4 weeks before each live session. Note that we’ve designed the prework to be done either individually or as a small group with your manager/clerk/county attorney and other newly-elected commissioners in your county. Similarly, you may participate in the live sessions on your own or with other members of your county team. We will not be hosting in-person gatherings. Those will happen at your own county’s facilities, according to your county’s meeting guidelines.


How can incumbent/re-elected officials receive their Ethics traning?

Incumbent county commissioners and municipal elected officials only

If you were re-elected this year (in November 2020), you must complete 2 hours of Ethics training. We are offering you a separate registration to join the Essentials course for the 2-hour portion of Ethics. You will receive a Zoom link and time to join the newly-elected commissioners for this portion of the course. Please note that this option is only available to incumbent/re-elected county commissioners.  Newly-elected county commissioners must complete the entire Essentials course.  To learn more and register, click HERE.



The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners provides cost offsets for county elected officials to attend LELA courses. For information on this discount click here.

  • January 22
    February 25
    March 23
    View Scholarship Information

    The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners provides cost offsets for county elected officials to attend LELA courses. For information on this discount click here.

    View Cancellation Policy
    Course participants who cancel their registration on or before January 14, 2021 will receive a full refund. No refund will be made for cancellations on or after January 15, 2021, but you will receive a transferrable credit to be used within 12 months. Click here to view the School’s full cancellation and refund policy.
    View Additional Information
    • January 22, 2021, 9:00am-12:30pm
    • February 25, 2021, 9:00am-12:30pm
    • March 23, 2021, 9:00am-1:00pm

    Track 2 - Online

    Registration and payment for this course grants access for a single attendee. In order to register a group of attendees, please register each person individually. If you have questions, please contact our registration office at or 919.966.4414.
    If you are a returning customer, please note that we have a new course registration system that we hope will be easier for you to use. If you encounter any registration issues, please explore our list of frequently asked questions or contact us at or 919.966.4414.
For all registration questions, resetting passwords, or login issues please contact:

Dale Zuckert

Assistant Registrar, Registration and Client Services Group
For questions regarding course details, including location, schedule, materials, and continuing education credits, please contact:

Toogie Hampton

Program Management Team Lead, Leadership Group
Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government
Manager of Elected Official Programming, Center for Public Leadership and Governance