Connecting City Hall to Capitol Hill

March 10, 2014

By Tim Mudd

Today at the Congressional City Conference in Washington, both local and federal leaders stressed the importance of partnership in advancing solutions to the nation's biggest challenges.

In the opening general session, NLC President Mayor Coleman, Mayor of Saint Paul, set the tone for the day ahead, challenging city leaders to unite behind the commonsense actions that will support communities in making positive change.

"United, we can make sure the federal government understands our challenges and is responsive to the needs of our communities," said Mayor Coleman.

The solutions to these challenges, he went on to say, will require strong local leadership and a resourceful federal government that supports the innovation going on in cities.

New Initiatives to Drive Change

Recognizing that communities are stronger when local and federal governments work together, NLC and the U.S. Department of Education announced the joint signing of a "memo of understanding." It details a plan to strengthen partnerships among federal and local governments, schools, families and other organizations with the goal to advance learning, enhance student engagement and improve schools.

As part of the MOU, NLC will hold community conversations in a number of cities across the country this year to discuss strategies to meet three goals: early childhood education, afterschool, and postsecondary attainment.

NLC also announced the Homeless Veteran Leadership Network (HVLN), a national effort to challenge cities to meet the Administration's goal to end veteran homelessness in 2015.

Sixteen cities have initially signed on to the HVLN to meet the Administration's recent challenge to mayors by partnering with community stakeholders and offering support for strategies to end veteran homelessness.

Each HVLN city will aim to engage in a "friendly competition" with another comparable city to be the next community to achieve this goal.

The HVLN is co-chaired by NLC President Chris Coleman, Mayor of Saint Paul, Minn., NLC 1st Vice President Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah and Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, Ariz.

Partnering to Empower Communities

The day's events also featured a series of panel discussions. Moderated by NBC and MSNBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchel, NLC President Chris Coleman, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and Michael Kercheval, president and CEO of International Council of Shopping Centers discussed the crisis of confidence in the government.

In the afternoon general session, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman spoke about the importance of foreign trade to American communities.

Afterwards, U.S. Sec. of HUD Shaun Donovan, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy participated in a panel to discuss community resiliency and the intersections between housing, transportation and the environment.