Committees continued advancing policy resolutions. Mayors discussed best practices, heard from pollster Frank Luntz and White Advisor and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. 

(Kansas City, Mo.) – Today, the nation’s mayors continued the 92nd annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), leading discussions on climate and sustainability, innovation, and the role of mayors and their cities globally. The numerous guest speakers and committee sessions made it clear: Cities are where things get done.

“You are the last remaining institution of credibility in this country,” said Dr. Frank Luntz, the renowned pollster, during his presentation on messages that are resonating with constituents who want results.

During the opening plenary, Comcast and the Conference announced ten cities as recipients of grants through the Talent for Tomorrow: Digital Equity Challenge. The cities were recognized for their leadership in working to close the digital divide. Those in the small cities category received $75,000 grants, the medium cities category received $150,000 grants, and the large cities category received $250,000 grants.

The USCM, in partnership with the Truman Center, also released official survey results on the international activities of U.S. cities. The survey collected information on international relationships cultivated by 166 U.S. cities, comprising more than 1,600 unique engagements.

In a session titled Local Infrastructure Hub: Implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Montgomery (AL) Mayor Steven Reed shared the transformational impacts of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) on cities. Mayors shared how their cities used funds to drive their communities forward, while Local Infrastructure Hub partner Bloomberg Philanthropies emphasized the importance of taking advantage of the funds and sharing success stories, urging mayoral participation in their upcoming programs.

Federal officials from the Department of Transportation, Department of Commerce and Biden-Harris Administration joined the panel. “We are also looking at our policies. How can we make it easier for cities, particularly like yours, to get not only access but also hear you in our process?” asked Christopher Coes, Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation.

Committee Sessions Continue, Setting Conference Agenda for Upcoming Year

The International Affairs Committee advanced two resolutions: calling for a local EPA program at San Diego’s border with Mexico and calling for more international arms agreements. Then the mayors were briefed by the Truman Center on its new report on trends in cities’ international relationships. For example, the data showed that Chinese cities still represent the largest share of sister-city engagements for them. “We have seen the rise of the voice of cities in international relations,” said Oklahoma City (OK) Mayor David Holt.

The Technology and Innovation Committee passed six resolutions on data security, artificial intelligence, 3D printed homes, and cable rights of way. In kicking off the session, committee chair Seattle (WA) Bruce Harrell said, “I made a career in technology and its great opportunities, but also as mayors, we need to be aware of its great vulnerabilities.” “This is serious stuff,” said Mayor Harrell, describing the dangers of cybersecurity attacks.

The Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment and Sports Committee passed 12 resolutions, after which committee members toured Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The committee was led by vice chair Boca Raton (FL) Mayor Scott Singer.

The Children, Health and Human Services Committee, led by Richmond (VA) Mayor Levar Stoney, advanced more than a dozen resolutions, calling for support of mental health services, childcare, basic income programs and more. In addition to hearing from guest speakers, the mayors discussed the use of research in developing programs to address poverty and outside barriers to implementation. “Our belief is that you all in this room are some of the most important leaders in our nation,” said Heather Reynolds, managing director of the Michael Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities. “You are closest to your communities, you see the impact of poorly designed policies and investments.”

The Environment Committee, led by Columbia (MO) Mayor Barbara Buffaloe, advanced 11 resolutions supporting issues such as funding energy efficiency, water infrastructure, mitigating health risks associated with waste transportation, and other environmental programs. Discussions following the resolutions revolved around building climate capable governments, with Mayor Buffaloe sharing that her city has started having new employees take a climate foundation course as part of their onboarding. “We surveyed our global community and we found that 68 percent of public servants say climate change is already impacting their work, but only 35 percent have said they have received any sort of training related to that,” said Bruna Santos, director of the Brazil Institute, Wilson Center and member of Apolitcal’s advisory council, as she explained how mayors and their staff can take advantage of free climate courses from Apolitical. “Trees are about the one thing everybody can agree on in this divisive and contentious time,” remarked Dan Lambe, Chief Executive of the Arbor Day Foundation, as he emphasized the importance of tree plantation and utilizing the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Jobs, Education, and the Workforce Committee passed eight resolutions as read out by committee chair and Phoenix (AZ) Mayor Kate Gallego. Resolutions focused on workforce development and innovation, increasing the minimum wage, student debt relief, closing wealth gaps, school safety grants and more. Mayor Gallego led an engaging discussion with Jessica Berman, Commissioner of the National Womenʼs Soccer League (NWSL), about the league’s impact on the economy. “Now that we have actually begun to resource these businesses in the way they needed to have been for however many decades, we now see the economic impact that has been proven in men’s sports is beginning to happen on the women’s side,” said Berman.