This week local officials, partners, and municipal staff traveled to our nation’s capital for the 55th annual Congressional City Conference (CCC). America’s largest legislative conference for local leaders saw important policy discussions, engaging general session speakers, collaborative networking opportunities, and a spotlight on the power of cities, towns and villages.
Here are our top moments:
Two Presidential Candidates Commit to Leading Together
NLC created the Leading Together 2020 Cities Agenda to highlight local priorities in the 2020 Election cycle. We have been calling upon all presidential candidates to commit to this formative, bipartisan platform and to commit to working with local leaders, if elected as President. This week, both former Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) made their commitments official, joining three former candidates for the democratic nomination. The candidates submitted videos highlighting their commitment to working with local leaders – and Rep. Gabbard also spoke on the main stage in a fireside chat with NLC’s Director of Federal Advocacy, Irma Esparza Diggs.
Speaker(s) of the House
Both the 54th Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and 52nd (and current) Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi provided dynamic remarks on CCC’s main stage this week. A common theme was highlighting the critical issues federal leaders must work together with cities, towns and villages to accomplish – including infrastructure, workforce, homelessness, gun violence, and the on-going COVID-19 emergency.
The 2020 Census is Here!
NLC is committed to a complete and accurate 2020 Census. Mayor James Diossa from Central Falls, Rhode Island capped off an amazing week on the Census, that also included a workshop on Census elated cybersecurity and an announcement of $1.6M in rapid response funding for hard-to-count (HTC) community engagement. Visit nlc.org/census for more resources and information for local leaders.
Bipartisanship on Climate Resilience
Continuing the theme of bipartisanship in Washington, both the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis spoke during General Sessions. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) showed there is bipartisan interest in working with local communities to address climate and community resilience.
Local Solutions on Housing and Homelessness
Local leaders believe housing instability and the homelessness crisis in our communities is solvable. This was on display all week: in the first-ever convening of the Joint Committee on Homelessness, formed from three of NLC’s federal advocacy committees to focus on solutions to the homelessness crisis, and then again on the main stage in an engaging panel sharing best practices and practices of community engagement to combat homelessness and protect vulnerable populations. The panel featured Nan Roman, President and CEO, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Mayor Lily Mei, Fremont, California, Councilmember Rebecca Viagran, San Antonio, Texas and Chief Peter Newsham, Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia and representing the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association.
Re-skilling America’s Workforce
One of the four pillars of NLC’s Leading Together 2020 Cities Agenda is creating a skilled workforce. Monday afternoon’s general session hosted a dynamic panel featuring Rachel Unruh, Chief of External Affairs, National Skills Coalition, Councilmember Sean Polster, Warrenton, Virginia, and Barry Dechtman, Denver Mayor’s Youth Commission, Denver, CO on the future of the American Workforce and skills training in 2020 and beyond. We must invest in our workers, the young, and the young at heart to set them up for successful and equitable careers!
Youth Takes Center Stage
Youth leaders inspire local and national change – and NLC’s youth delegation to CCC 2020 was no exception. With 328 delegates and chaperones from across the country, the Congressional City Conference provided the youth advocacy voice with a powerful platform to continue to shape policy and America’s future.
NLC’s new initiative Cities Vote has been launched to permanently strengthen the relationship between cities and their residents. The Building Voter Engagement workshop taught local leaders high-impact strategies for raising voter and civic engagement. The Cities Vote network of officials is here to help voting become more accessible, convenient, and meaningful – no matter the election. Visit nlc.org/citiesvote for more information.
About the Author: Rohan Narayanan is the Senior Specialist, Marketing & Communications for Federal Advocacy at the National League of Cities.