By Carolyn Coleman
NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers, mayor, Avondale, AZ addressed mayors and guests from across the country at last week's U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) annual winter meeting in Washington. In her remarks, Mayor Rogers spoke about the two organizations' deep commitment to being strong voices for local governments in the federal policy arena and the need to work together in the coming year to protect local government interests on Capitol Hill and within the Administration.
Calling on Congress to work together to find compromise and solutions, she praised her colleagues for their efforts at the local level and pressed them to convince their federal counterparts not to harm cities in the upcoming fights over spending.
"As mayors, we face conflict every day. But we work together to find compromises and solutions. Congress must work to do the same," Rogers said. "Congress forgets that these federal investments they want to cut actually drive the growth in our cities, they build our infrastructure, and they create jobs - they are not wasteful spending."
Mayor Rogers was joined at last week's gathering by NLC First Vice President Chris Coleman, mayor, St. Paul, MN, NLC Second Vice President Ralph Becker, mayor, Salt Lake City, UT, and NLC Executive Director Clarence Anthony.
The need for federal proposals to reduce gun violence in the aftermath of the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT, was a featured topic throughout the meeting. Vice President Joe Biden, Philadelphia Mayor and USCM President Michael Nutter; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; and Connecticut Governor (and former Stamford mayor) Dan Malloy all spoke of the need and pledged support for proposals to reduce gun violence announced earlier in the week by President Barack Obama (see related story).
Other speakers at the meeting included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who made the case for federal immigration reform; Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan; Education Secretary Arne Duncan; outgoing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson; Alaska Senator Mark Begich (former Anchorage mayor); Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; and outgoing Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.