WASHINGTON (Feb. 23, 2010) – Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz led a bipartisan delegation of more than thirty U.S. mayors on Capitol Hill this week, according to Business Wire, to push federal lawmakers to focus on main street with joblessness legislation.
Kautz, of American Samoan decent, was just last month named President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today, each represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.
The Washington delegation of more than 30 mayors from around the country including Honolulu – stated the effort was to influence legislators to put aside partisan differences to quickly pass a jobs bill that puts Americans back to work and invests in main street metropolitan economies where joblessness is most concentrated.
The mayors held a press conference to highlight the growing unemployment figures in their individual cities and the importance passing of a jobs bill now. Mayors have been working with Congressman George Miller (D-CA) on a proposal that responds to the needs of Main Street with funding for job creation and job retention in cities.
Last month, more than 200 of the nation’s mayors came to Washington, D.C. to advocate for their 2010 Metro Agenda for America (www.usmayors.org), and mayors are pleased that Chairman Miller has responded to their request to help American families, who in many cases are suffering from double-digit unemployment.
As the Administration has made new green industries a priority for job creation, mayors are also pushing for funding for green job and clean energy block grants [i.e., EECBG], included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to accelerate the growth of green jobs in cities.
Kautz was inaugurated as the 68th President of The United States Conference of Mayors during a special gavel passing ceremony at the Performing Arts Center in Burnsville in January. It was scheduled after USCM President and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, was defeated last November and as his term ended on January 2, Kautz as Vice President automatically became President.
Kautz will serve the balance of Nickel’s term, which would have ended in June 2010, and then serve a full term of her own as President until June 2011.
On behalf of the Executive Committee and the membership of the Conference, U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran passed the gavel and introduced Mayor Kautz as the new President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors at the ceremony.
“We are encouraged by Mayor Kautz, our new leader, who will ensure a seamless transition,” Cochran said. “The U.S. Conference of Mayors will move forward as an organization with resolve to strengthen America’s cities and help American families during these difficult economic times.”
Mayor Kautz also delivered remarks during the ceremony saying, “The news today is often inundated with stories about how the economic recession is taking a terrible toll on our citizens, our businesses, and our city budgets. These are real challenges that mayors across the nation struggle to address. But, we can also reset our paradigms and can look at these challenges as opportunities.”
Mayor Kautz reminded the audience of the strength of America’s cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas.
“The nation’s 362 metropolitan areas account for 86 percent of all jobs, and 90 percent of the nation’s labor income and gross domestic product. Out of the world’s largest 100 economies, 40 are U.S. metropolitan areas! Legally, we are a nation of states within a federal system; but economically, we function as a conglomeration of metro economies that are powerhouses not just within the U.S., but also within the global marketplace.”
As President, Mayor Kautz will preside over all official meetings and execute the bipartisan political agenda adopted by the nation’s mayors, appoint committee and task force chairs, and will be the global and national spokesperson for the USA mayors’ organization.
Kautz met with President Obama during her first official meeting at The 78th Winter Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington last month. She reportedly advocated for a national bipartisan political agenda that confronts the unemployment that still exists on main street America, the need for a federal and city partnerships on climate protection, energy with block grants to produce green jobs, and a more balanced transportation bill to modernize the current transportation system to move goods, services and people in metropolitan areas.
Kautz was first elected Mayor of Burnsville in 1994 and has been re-elected five times. She is the fifth woman and first minority woman to be USCM President. Her partial and full term will also maker her the longest serving woman President in the organization’s 78-year history.