D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke to a session of the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke to a session of the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference.

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Officials from the Biden administration — including first lady Dr. Jill Biden — and speakers from the private and nonprofit sectors spoke to hundreds of municipal elected and appointed leaders from across the country at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Northwest from March 26-28.

“My husband always — often says that local leaders get things done,” said the first lady during a keynote address to the conference on March 27. “When people need safe roads to drive to work, when businesses need more support to stay open, when parents need to know that their children are safe, there’s no time for political posturing or division. You — all of you — you reach across the aisle, and you look for common ground.”

The National League of Cities (NLC) is an advocacy organization based in Northwest that represents the country’s 19,495 cities, towns and villages ranging in size from New York City with its over eight million population to the smallest hamlet. The NLC also represents the 49 state municipal leagues. The organization provides training to municipal officials, holds conferences, lobbies congressional and executive branch members and leaders and provides assistance for cities in educational issues. Clarence E. Anthony serves as the executive director and CEO of the NLC.

The Congressional City Conference convened as the U.S. Congress grapples with the passing of the federal budget. NLC members came to the District to learn about the latest developments on the implementation of the Biden administration’s programs such as those in the American Rescue Plan of 2021, the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the U.S. Chips & Science Act as well as exchange ideas on how to boost their local economies and improve public safety. On March 28, members traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with their representatives and senators.

Biden Leaders and Mayors Address the NLC

On March 26, Biden administration officials John Podesta and Shalanda Young addressed the afternoon session. John Podesta serves as the senior adviser to the president on clean energy innovation and implementation and told the audience Biden’s plans on addressing climate change.

“We have a program through the Department of Treasury where grants can be obtained for programs to push solar power use, foster electric vehicle stations and encourage good storage practices,” Podesta, 74, said. “Our goal is to work toward a cleaner, greener climate and getting people a good job.”

Shalanda Young, the director of the United States Office of Management and Budget, said through Biden’s recently submitted budget to Congress, the administration has four priorities.

“We know that inflation is hurting families so we want to help lower prices,” Young, 45, said. “The administration wants to put money back into your communities so you can help your residents thrive. Protecting Social Security and Medicare are priorities and benefit cuts are off the table. We also want to bring down the deficit by practicing fiscal responsibility.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the District is working to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are all things budget,” Bowser, 50, said. “I recently submitted a budget to the D.C. Council and told residents that even though our city is strong fiscally, we will have to make tough choices.”

Bowser said reinvigorating the downtown area is important along with helping students to catch up academically after the pandemic caused schools to go into session virtually. She also said supporting the District’s police department is the key to fighting gun violence.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott; Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Lumumba; Charleston, West Virginia Mayor Amy Goodwin; and Mesa, Arizona Mayor John Giles spoke about public safety in their cities. 

Scott said his $50 million violence intervention program that has a substantial amount of federal funds has aided Baltimore police in fighting crime and “creating a safe ecosystem.” 

Lumumba said a lot of the violence in his city is the result of bad interpersonal relationships and his police department is working to address that issue. 

Goodman labeled her city as the “opioid capital of the world” and said she is using state and federal money to try to change that perception. 

Giles said he has convinced city leaders to treat criminal activity as a public health issue “instead of locking people up.”

Robert Shankle serves as a city councilmember in Lufkin, Texas. Shankle said he was glad to attend the conference.

“This was very informational,” Shankle said. “I represent a small city and we have lots of problems and I have heard some solutions while here. It is also good to come to D.C. and network with other city leaders.”

James Wright photo

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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