By Rikka Batulan
Two constituency groups of the National League of Cities, the Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials (APAMO) and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Local Officials (GLBTLO), went to the Hill last week to lobby for NLC's top three legislative priorities.
APAMO President Stephen Sham, Vice Mayor of Alhambra, California, led the effort along with his west coast counterparts, Gilbert Wong, Vice Mayor of Cupertino, California, Suzanne Chan, Councilmember, Fremont, California, and Doris McConnell, Councilmember, Shoreline, Washington.
Before going to the Hill, the APAMO leaders and GLBTLO member Patrick Wojahn, Councilmember, College Park, Maryland, met at NLC headquarters for an early morning briefing with NLC's Executive Director Clarence Anthony and the organization's federal relations team.
APAMO Past President Gilbert Wong said, "I find time in D.C. valuable and timely as we fight for comprehensive immigration reform, marketplace fairness and municipal bond tax exemption. Congressmen Mike Honda and Eric Swallwell appreciated our visits to their offices as we advocated for local control and support for our cities."
Besides the meetings with Reps. Swallwell (D-CA) and Honda (D-CA), the group met with Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), and the staff for Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Ben Cardin (D-MD).
APAMO President Sham met personally with Reps Chu and Schiff. It was his first time to do a lobby day. President Sham said, "I know my representatives very well, and while they support immigration reform and the tax exemption for municipal bonds, it was important for them to hear from me firsthand about the impact their decisions in Washington can have on my community and others across the country. I'm already looking forward to doing more lobbying with NLC for my city in the coming months and next year."
The thoughts were echoed by other lobby day participants. Councilwoman Chan said, "Visiting Capitol Hill and meeting one on one with our Legislators, was an opportunity to personally speak with our Representatives and Senators on key issues that have a direct impact on our local cities. Our Congressmembers were attentive as we engaged in thoughtful and productive discussion to protect and advocate for the rights of cities nationwide."
While Treasurer McConnell shared her thoughts, "I want to thank Senator Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell's staff for meeting with APAMO. Additionally, Senator Cantwell has been instrumental as one of a dozen senators who co-signed a letter to President Obama on the municipal bond tax exemption, stressing the negative impact that altering the tax treatment of municipals bonds would have on the ability of local governments to manage their finances and invest in the future."
The city leaders' visits to Capitol Hill were timely as NLC's continues to fight for local priorities.
NLC Executive Director Clarence Anthony said, "City officials can and are making a difference on the Hill. As we continue to lobby Congress to level the playing field for our brick and mortar retail stores and support local government's ability to fund city services; to support common sense immigration reform; and to save the tax exemption for municipal bonds, the voices of local governments will continue to be important in Washington and back at home."
APAMO's officers are: Stephen K. Sham, Councilmember, Alhambra, California (president); Suzanne Chan, Councilmember, Fremont, California (vice president); Doris McConnell, Councilmember, Shoreline, Washington (treasurer); Leland Cheung, Councilor, Cambridge, Massachusetts (secretary) and Evan Low, Mayor, Campbell, California (Immediate Past President).
At-Large members are: Elisa Chan, Councilmember, San Antonio, Texas; Ling-Ling Chang, Councilmember, Diamond Bar, California; Conrad Lee, Mayor, Bellevue, Washington; Edwin Lee, Mayor, San Francisco, California; Polly Low, Mayor Pro Tem, Rosemead, California; Anu Natarajan, Vice Mayor, Fremont, California; Madison Nguyen, Vice Mayor, San Jose, California and Gilbert Wong, Vice Mayor, Cupertino, California.
GLBTLO's officers are: Bob Gaiser, councilmember, Broomfield, Colorado (president);
Keith McGlashan, mayor, Shoreline, Washington (first vice president); George Toles, councilmember, Cathedral City, California (second vice president) and Craig Lowe, mayor, Gainesville, Florida (immediate past president).
At-Large Members are: Andy Amoroso, commissioner, Lake Worth, Florida; Karen Kellen, councilmember, Lakewood, Colorado; Steve Kornell, councilmember, St. Petersburg, Florida and LaWana Mayfield, Councilmember, Charlotte, North Carolina.
For details about individual membership opportunities in APAMO or GLBTLO, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Joining an NLC constituency group is another avenue to help you become involved with NLC.