The Nation’s Mayors Call on Presidential Candidates to Partner With Cities

Oklahoma City, OK—Under the leadership of U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) President Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, a bipartisan delegation of mayors who serve in the organization’s leadership convened to identify specific areas of focus they believe the next President of the United States should prioritize. They called for federal cooperation on issues important to people living in cities and their metropolitan areas, particularly infrastructure investment and public safety. The meeting was held from September 29 – October 1, 2016 at the Colcord Hotel in Oklahoma City, OK.

On Friday, September 30, the participating mayors met with representatives from both Presidential Campaigns to discuss their priorities for the first 100 days of the next Administration.Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin represented the Trump campaign. Former Jacksonville, FL Mayor Alvin Brown spoke on behalf of the Clinton campaign. The foundation for these conversations was The 2016 Mayors’ Compact for a Better America: A Call to Action, which urges the President and Congress to invest in and protect America’s cities.

Over the course of the three-day meeting, mayors considered key issues such as the growing need for a national infrastructure investment policy; ongoing efforts to reduce crime and terrorism, reforming the criminal justice system, and strengthening police-community relations; and the public-policy implications of deploying autonomous vehicles in cities. They also held a working session with several police chiefs to develop recommendations for the next President that address the complex safety and policing issues cities are facing.

At a press conference, the mayors stressed that while cities are home to innovation, creativity, and cultural diversity, they still need federal support help to address crumbling infrastructure—from roads and bridges to power grids and water systems—as well as inadequate public safety resources.

“If the next administration wants to successfully grow the economy and keep this country strong and safe, it needs to work directly with mayors,” said Mayor Cornett. “We’re a nonpartisan group and we know how to work together to get things done, but we also know that we can’t do it alone. We are here to solve problems. We are not here to increase the partisan divide that affects America. We are here to bridge it.”

On the topic of public safety, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who serves as USCM’s Vice President, emphasized the need for cities to have stronger partnerships with the White House on initiatives that will better protect residents from violent crime and terrorism. “Mayors and local law enforcement officials across America are currently dealing with three immediate and interrelated challenges: building trust between the police and the community, reducing violent crime, and preventing terrorism. Local law enforcement is at the tip of the spear in this nation’s responsibility to provide security, justice, and opportunity for all. We feel it. We’re the ones on the ground all of the time, yet we do not have the tools needed to deliver. These are national challenges that require a national response and require major investments at home—strengthening the bonds between the police and community, expanding homeland security grants, funding mental health and substance abuse, and reforming the criminal justice system. The next President and Congress need to work with cities to secure America.”

Columbia, SC Mayor and USCM 2nd Vice President Stephen Benjamin highlighted the Conference’s priority to convince Congress to protect the current tax exemption on municipal bonds as a key funding source for capital projects. “Washington continues to talk about the need for the modernization of our infrastructure across the board, but they continue to play fast and loose with the very tool that will allow us to do that. The tax exemption on municipal bonds is the only thing we have left to meet the nation’s infrastructure needs. This is not dessert – this is bread and butter, and it’s important to us that we reaffirm our position that investment in our cities is nonnegotiable.”

Video of the mayors’ press conference can be found here: http://bit.ly/2dhgcKW.

Mayors who attended USCM’s Fall Leadership Meeting:

  • Austin (TX) Mayor Steve Adler
  • Albuquerque (NM) Mayor Richard Berry
  • Baltimore (MD) Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
  • Bridgeport (CT) Mayor Joseph Ganim
  • Burnsville (MN) Mayor Elizabeth Kautz
  • Carmel (IN) Mayor Jim Brainard
  • Clarksville (TN) Mayor Kim McMillian
  • Columbia (SC) Mayor Steve Benjamin, USCM Second Vice President
  • Dallas (TX) Mayor Mike Rawlings
  • Dayton (OH) Mayor Nan Whaley
  • Denver (CO) Mayor Michael Hancock
  • Fontana (CA) Mayor Acquanetta Warren
  • Frisco (TX) Mayor Maher Maso
  • Garland (TX) Mayor Douglas Athas
  • Gary (IN) Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson
  • Green Bay (WI) Mayor Jim Schmitt
  • Gresham (OR) Mayor Shane Bemis
  • Hallandale Beach (FL) Mayor Joy Cooper
  • Irving (TX) Mayor Beth Van Duyne
  • Johns Creek (GA) Mayor Mike Bodker
  • Oklahoma City (OK) Mayor Mick Cornett, USCM President
  • New Orleans (LA) Mayor Mitch Landrieu, USCM Vice President
  • Kansas City (MO) Mayor Sylvester James
  • Knoxville (TN) Mayor Madeline Rogero
  • Lima (OH) Mayor David Berger
  • Little Rock (AR) Mayor Mark Stodola
  • Louisville (KY) Mayor Greg Fischer
  • Madison (WI) Mayor Paul Soglin
  • Mesa (AZ) Mayor John Giles
  • New Bedford (MA) Mayor Jonathan Mitchell
  • New York City (NY) Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • Plano (TX) Harry Larosiliere
  • Providence (RI) Mayor Jorge Elorza
  • Rochester Hills (MI) Mayor Bryan Barnett
  • Santa Barbara (CA) Mayor Helene Schneider
  • Santa Fe (NM) Mayor Javier Gonzalez
  • South Bend (IN) Mayor Peter Buttigieg
  • Tacoma (WA) Mayor Marilyn Strickland
  • Tampa (FL) Mayor Bob Buckhorn
  • Tempe (AZ) Mayor Mark Mitchell
  • West Sacramento (CA) Mayor Christopher Cabaldon

About the Author:

Elena Temple is the Director of Public Affairs for the Conference. She can be contacted by phone at 202-286-1100 or via email at etemple@usmayors.org.