Vice President Kamala Harris received a standing ovation from several hundred people and noted Friday’s appearance at the National Association of Counties conference was her first one in about a year and a half.
“And the first conference I’ve attended as vice president,” she said before rousing applause.
Harris spoke for about 15 minutes to headline NACo’s annual conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor.
About half of the vice president’s speech thanked county leaders who “had a lot of sleepless nights” working amid the coronavirus pandemic setting up vaccination sites, managing food distributions and coordinating other social services.
She also highlighted regular duties county governments perform such as behavioral health care, birth certificates, foster care, jury duty and “never [forgetting] the potholes.”
“Each and every day you take our nation’s ideals and you make them real,” said Harris, who served as district attorney in Alameda County, California. “That is why President Joe Biden and I see county leaders as true partners as we work to rebuild our nation. We are determined to make improvements that are real, that are tangible, that are felt for generations to come.”
One item Harris noted dealt with voting, especially with Republican-led state legislatures passing laws voting rights advocates see as voter suppression that affects Black and Latino residents.
“Protecting the right to vote is about as American as apple pie,” she said.
The vice president talked about Thursday at her alma mater Howard University in northwest D.C. where she announced a $25 million voting initiative led by the Democratic National Committee.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich praised Vice President Kamala Harris’ “refreshing” speech during the annual National Association of Counties conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at Maryland’s National Harbor on July 9. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich praised Vice President Kamala Harris’ “refreshing” speech during the annual National Association of Counties conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at Maryland’s National Harbor on July 9. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

According to a statement, the committee will invest the money in voter education, voter protection, targeted voter registration and technology “to make voting more accessible and to fight back against Republicans’ unprecedented voter suppression efforts.”
As for Harris’ attendance at NACo, county leaders felt reassured to hear their work isn’t done in vain, especially when it comes from the nation’s second-in-command.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich called Harris’ remarks “refreshing” for recognizing work conducted on a local level.
“It was wonderful to have counties acknowledged,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. “The whole world now knows that we would not have made it through the pandemic in the way that we did.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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