We are at an important crossroads in our history
Washington, DC, (Vocus) March 10, 2008 –
The National League of Cities today launched American Cities ‘08, the Road to the White House Runs Through America’s Hometowns, a focused effort to raise the voice and concerns of cities in the ongoing presidential campaign. Using the web, video, YouTube, buttons, and more traditional publications, the project asks a series of tough questions of the candidates and identifies seven core policy areas where cities will seek a two-way partnership with the federal government instead of the trickle-down attitude of the past. The information will be used by local officials in candidate forums, town hall meetings, with local media, or in any session with the candidates.
“We are at an important crossroads in our history,” said Cynthia McCollum, NLC president and Madison, Ala., council member. “Hometown issues are national issues. Huge challenges face all of us – the ongoing housing crisis, our crumbling infrastructure, the changing pattern of jobs, the need for neighborhood redevelopment, public safety, support for young families and children. These are issues that matter to the majority of Americans whether they live in downtown Philadelphia, a prosperous suburban city or a rural town.”
NLC’s new website, http://www.americancities08.org, provides information for the presidential candidates, local elected officials, and citizens who want to know more about how national policies effect cities. It highlights seven policy areas that impact hometowns, and includes questions for the candidates to answer. The site also features statements from the candidates on these important issues, where available.
As part of the project, NLC is also today releasing a new video, available through the website and on YouTube, where local officials ask some tough questions about city issues:
- Traffic congestion is a major problem for cities, but the Highway Trust Fund may run out of money by next year and the transportation reauthorization is in limbo. The question: As president, what will you do to fund transportation?
- The mortgage crisis is already exacerbating the affordable housing crunch, and blight is now a growing problem. The question: What will you do to increase the supply of affordable housing and stimulate the revitalization of neighborhoods, and how will you pay for it?
- The percentage of people living in poverty hasn’t changed much during the past 40 years despite our best efforts. The question: What will you do to ensure the adequacy of comprehensive assistance programs to meet the basic needs of families and children?
- Cities generate 90 percent of the nation’s economic output. The question: What will you do to spur investment in America’s cities?
McCollum noted that while the candidates have been discussing many of these issues, they have not addressed how they will work with local elected officials, who are responsible for implementing federal policies as well as providing daily services under increasingly difficult fiscal constraints. In 1978, federal funding accounted for 17 percent of municipal budgets – by 2005, it had dropped to five percent. Since state government contributions stayed roughly the same during this time period, cities absorbed the entire drop in federal aid by increasing revenues from their own local sources.
McCollum said this trend can’t continue if cities are to thrive in the future. “Aside from homeland security funding, cities haven’t had a raise in more than 35 years,” McCollum said, stressing the point that cities and towns are not just looking for funding. “Instead, the next Administration should use the innovative work being done in cities across the country as national models for effective investment.”
“We need a renewed commitment from the next Administration to work together with local governments to build thriving communities,” McCollum said.
For more information on American Cities ’08 or to set up an interview, contact Sherry Conway Appel, 202-441-3160 (email@example.com) or go to http://www.americancities08.org.
Sherry Conway Appel