This year, over 4,000 local officials, partners and municipal staff from all 50 states travelled to San Antonio with one purpose in mind: building stronger communities.
There’s an exciting kind of energy that fills the room when so many local leaders come together – and with over 500 attendees joining us for the first time, we’ve heard fresh ideas from localities big and small.
Here are our top ten moments:
Unveiling Our 2020 Cities Agenda
On Thursday, NLC released Our Leading Together Cities Agenda for the 2020 presidential election. We are united in the belief that our nation is strongest when all levels of government work together to protect and advance the priorities of America’s communities and their residents. This is America’s agenda for a strong, safe and fair nation. Read the full agenda.
Exploring San Antonio
More than just the Riverwalk, San Antonio has shown itself to be a warm, welcoming city with more than its fair share of southern charm. One of the fastest growing cities in America, San Antonio has developed a reputation for innovative ideas and a commitment to equity.
Jesus Trejo Tells His Story
As a comedian and a caregiver, Jesus Trejo splits his time between his comedy career and caring for his aging parents – a phenomenon that is becoming more and more common as America’s population ages. On the general session stage, he told his powerful story and joined AARP’s Jean Setzfand and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson to talk about creating communities for all generations.
Electing Councilmember Joe Buscaino as President of the National League of Cities
On Saturday, Los Angeles Councilmember Joe Buscaino officially began his term as President of the National League of Cities. His presidential platform focuses on leading with urgency – because the challenges local officials face require urgent solutions.
“In 2020, I will lead with urgency on the issue of homelessness. I will lead with urgency as we strengthen the federal-local partnership. And I will lead with urgency and support your efforts to build innovation-driven economies.”
Common Addresses the Delegates
Lead with love. That was the message Common passed on to City Summit delegates at the closing General Session. A stirring speech that warranted a standing ovation, Common pulled examples from his personal life while imploring local leaders to look beyond the numbers and find compassion.
Peter Kageyama Asks “Where is the Fun?”
Author of “For the Love of Cities”, we knew Peter Kageyama was going to talk about the connection we feel with the places we call home. What we didn’t expect was for him to encourage us to seek out the fun and playful in city design and planning and to teach us that there’s more than one way to write a love letter to your community.
A Focus on Housing Affordability
Many Americans are struggling to find safe, quality, affordable housing. During one of our general sessions, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros sat down with current Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Julie Morita and Community Solutions’ Rosanne Haggerty to discuss what this means for local leaders and their residents. There were two major takeaways: One, when it comes to housing policy, we need to be rigorous and holistic. The other? That the housing crisis is infiltrating every aspect of life for residents, from economic opportunity to health. As Morita put it: “Not only is housing important to create an environment where people can feel safe and secure. It also affects how long they’re living.”
The 2020 Presidential Forum
On the main stage, two 2020 presidential candidates shared their plans to strengthen local communities in America, moderated by Axios’s Kim Hart. Julian Castro, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and former Mayor of San Antonio, and Joe Walsh, former Congressman from Illinois addressed the audience on how, if elected, they would work to improve the lives of our nation’s communities and residents.
Undesigning the Redline
Standing at over seven feet tall, NLC’s large scale Undesign the Redline exhibit presents a historical overview of the policies and practices of redlining and structural racism. But more than just a historical text, the exhibit invited attendees to place themselves in the narrative and recognize the impact of local action – or inaction – on communities of color.
Surfin’ the Night Away with the Beach Boys
On Friday night, we surfed right into Military City USA. At a reception to honor incoming NLC President Joe Buscaino, hosted by the California League of Cities, attendees danced the night away. It was fun-fun-fun, until the lights came on.
About the author: Meri St. Jean is the senior digital content specialist at the National League of Cities.