The 2011 Spectrum of Democracy Awards

Bill Gilkeson
former N.C. General Assembly staff attorney
Robert Morgan Service Award

Heather Jones
Cabarrus County 4-H agent
Outstanding Citizen

Bonner Gaylord
Raleigh City councilor
Outstanding Public Servant

Raleigh-based television station
Outstanding Media Organization programming
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For immediate release.
Feb. 9, 2011
Contact: Bryan Warner, N.C. Center for Voter Education, 877-258-6837

Center to Honor Citizens, Journalists and Public Servants at 2011 Spectrum of Democracy Awards

RALEIGH – Former N.C. General Assembly staffer Bill Gilkeson, Cabarrus County 4-H agent Heather Jones, Raleigh City Councilor Bonner Gaylord and the staff at NBC-17 are among the recipients of the 2011 Spectrum of Democracy Awards, recognizing vital contributions to North Carolina’s democracy.

Spectrum of Democracy AwardsThe award recipients will be honored at a dinner event presented by the nonprofit N.C. Center for Voter Education on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel. Tickets to the dinner are $50 ($35 for students and members of the military) and can be purchased online at or by calling toll-free 877-258-6837.

“Too often lost among bitter partisan squabbling are the uplifting stories of people working selflessly to make a positive difference for North Carolina,” said Damon Circosta, executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education. “We are very pleased to highlight the important contributions that these award recipients have made to empower and engage citizens in our democracy.”

About the 2011 Spectrum of Democracy Award recipients:

Bill Gilkeson -- Robert Morgan Service Award

In 2010, Bill Gilkeson retired as a staff attorney in the N.C. General Assembly after 25 years of service to the state. In the more than two decades that he served in the legislature, Gilkeson provided trusted and thoughtful counsel to Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike as an election-law expert. He is emblematic of the many dedicated legislative staff members who quietly and diligently provide vital support to legislators of both parties as they craft laws for North Carolina.

This service award is named after Robert Morgan, a former U.S. senator, state attorney general, N.C. Senate president pro tempore and U.S. Navy veteran. Sen. Morgan served as founding president of the N.C. Center for Voter Education.

Heather Jones -- Outstanding Citizen

As a 4-H agent in Cabarrus County, Heather Jones created a youth leadership program engaging area high school students in local government. The program allows students to visit the Cabarrus County Governmental Center, take part in a county budget-writing simulation and interact with locally elected officials. Nearly 90 percent of students who have taken part in the program say it has instilled in them a better understanding of their duties as citizens.

Bonner Gaylord -- Outstanding Public Servant

Raleigh City Councilor Bonner Gaylord represents District E, where he has been a lifelong resident. He is on the forefront of utilizing technology to connect citizens with their government, implementing the “SeeClickFix” program, an online application that allows community members to alert city officials and neighbors to areas in need of improvement -- from potholes to unsafe intersections.

Gaylord has also been a local leader on bridging partisan divides, joining the “No Labels” movement that seeks to improve the tone of political discourse and find common ground.

NBC-17 -- Outstanding Media Organization

In 2010, Raleigh-based NBC-17 excelled in providing citizens with comprehensive coverage of the candidates courting their vote. Partnering with the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, NBC-17 presented a series of in-depth televised congressional and senatorial debates moderated by anchor and political reporter Kim Genardo. These debates spanned last year's primary, runoff and general elections.

About the N.C. Center for Voter Education:

Founded in 1999, the N.C. Center for Voter Education is a Raleigh-based nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping all citizens more fully participate in democracy.