As the nation enters 2024 and begins the next presidential election cycle – kicking off with the January 15 caucuses in Iowa and January 23 primaries in New Hampshire – now is the time for local leaders to ask: How will the next president of the United States prioritize cities, towns and villages?
Every four years, to ensure that local leader voices and priorities are part of the election cycle conversation, the National League of Cities (NLC) forms a bipartisan task force of local officials. While candidates and the press may focus on hot-button, divisive national issues, local leaders want to make sure that the next president is focused on where the rubber meets the road: in our communities. As the co-chairs of the 2024 Presidential Election Task Force, it is our goal to make sure that the candidates and the next administration work towards solutions to the challenges facing all communities, from Rancho Cordova, CA to Baton Rouge, LA.
America’s cities, towns and villages have a long history of partnership with the White House. In a December 1994 speech to NLC members, President Bill Clinton said, “I have long admired the work of the National League of Cities. The thousands of cities and municipalities that you represent and the millions of Americans who live in them have a strong voice in the league … [o]ur nation can’t prosper unless our cities are part of that prosperity.” Two years earlier, President George H.W. Bush brought a similar message of collaboration to NLC’s conference. Throughout the decades since NLC’s founding, presidents, vice presidents, and cabinet secretaries from both parties have relied on NLC and its members for partnership in tackling our nation’s toughest challenges.
We know that strong working relationships with any presidential administration are built on the campaign trail. The conversations, connections, and commitments made between candidates, proxies, and campaign staff and local officials blossom into concrete policy action when candidates enter the Oval Office. Now is the time to foster those conversations.
Over the next year, NLC will work with the presidential candidates and their teams – through the election, during the 2025 inauguration, and in the early months of the next administration, to ensure that the voices of local leaders are being heard and that our needs are being prioritized.
Our Task Force’s three primary priorities are:
- Ensure that local government has a seat at the federal decision-making table. Too often, policies are crafted without the perspective of the local leaders who will be most impacted. Cities need strong intergovernmental engagement with the administration and a direct line of communication with the White House. The next president will also benefit from local insights by appointing former local elected officials to key roles in the White House and federal agencies.
- Promote good governance and direct support to localities. We must continue to raise public awareness about the crucial role local government plays in society. As we approach the third anniversary of the American Rescue Plan Act, we must also tell the story of good local stewardship of federal funds. In addition, the next president must collaborate with NLC to make the federal government easier for local leaders to use.
- Celebrate civil discourse and strong engagement in the democratic process within our communities. Local leaders work with their residents to get things done. This year, we will celebrate the vibrant civic participation in our own communities. We will champion civil discourse and the nonpartisan problem-solving for which local officials are known.
While we plan to engage with the candidates and their campaigns around the debates, campaign stops, and party conventions, our work will not end on Election Day. We are committed to ensuring that on Inauguration Day 2025, the incoming president’s team is well-connected to city officials and well-briefed on municipal priorities so that we can work on achieving our goals from day one of the new administration. We hope that all NLC members will reach out to the candidates, regardless of party affiliation, who pass through their communities. Together, we can start 2025 with a federal government laser-focused on partnering with cities to build a strong future for all of us.
To learn more about the Presidential Task Force and its members, click here.