NCLM Southern City, Volume 73, Issue 4 2023

Still, a residential town on the Outer Banks is far different than a residential town elsewhere in the state, and for a local government that distinction brings with it a host of unique challenges and circumstances. The tourist towns of North Carolina have an impact that expands far beyond the traditional metrics of population or land mass. There is the economic impact, of course, capturing the commercial activity of the many visitors and vacationers. But maybe more important is the larger reputational impact of these destinations that, like an ambassador, have an outsized role in representing the state as a whole. To many thousands of people, a trip to North Carolina simply means a trip to the beach. That’s just one of the weights carried by Southern Shores and towns like it. And as a longtime visitor herself, it’s a fact Morey knows full well. Morey grew up in the greater Dallas area of Texas before moving with her family to Atlanta when she was in middle school. That relocation started her slow pilgrimage north, first moving out THROUGH COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND A CITIZEN-FIRST APPROACH, MOREY ENSURES SOUTHERN SHORES IS NOT JUST A TOP-TIER BEACH DESTINATION, BUT ALSO A TRUE HOMETOWN. If you live in Southern Shores, there’s a good chance Mayor Elizabeth Morey has knocked on your door. “I know what the problems are and who’s being impacted. Because they’ve told me,” Morey says. Between campaigning and her tenure as mayor, it’s been hundreds and hundreds of door knocks and front porch meetings. “It turns out, if you listen, a lot of people will talk to you.” What she finds in those conversations is, above all else, a shared appreciation of their community. “Even when I’d ask what they didn’t like or what they would like to see addressed, they always start with, ‘I love living in Southern Shores,’” Morey says. “And I say, ‘Good, because I love living in Southern Shores, too!’” On the Outer Banks, to like where you’re at is a prerequisite. To understand Mayor Morey, it’s best to first understand her town. By Census count, Southern Shores hosts just over 3,000 full-time residents, though the summertime crowd numbers in the tens of thousands and is located on the northern Outer Banks in Dare County, along with the towns of Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk and Duck, among other communities. One north-to-south road connects them all. These areas are not identical, though. “Just like each town has its own distinct borders, each town also has its own distinct personalities,” Morey says. What sets Southern Shores apart from its neighbors is a focus on residential housing. While still a vacation destination, many full-time residents of the Outer Banks find their way to Southern Shores, says Morey, who notes that only about 5% of the town’s development is dedicated to commercial activity. “It’s a unique footprint,” Morey says. “The entire oceanfront is residential.” Accompanying that hometown makeup is a strong local sense of volunteerism. Local community groups are the engine of Southern Shores, as Morey describes, from fire response to recreation to beach access to marinas. All of it, and more, is overseen by a network of civic organizations. “We pride ourselves on being a residential community, and on being a community of volunteers,” Morey says. “That’s who we are.” Mayor Elizabeth Morey Leads by Listening JACK CASSIDY NCLM Learning and Development Project Manager We pride ourselves on being a residential community, and on being a community of volunteers. That’s who we are. » Elizabeth Morey, Mayor, Southern Shores SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 20