DALLAS — Hundreds of mayors from across the country were welcomed to Dallas on Friday with a dance party. On Saturday, it was back to business to focus on the issues that matter most.
“The big issues are education, infrastructure [and] Department of Justice,” said Mayor Scott Cosper of Killeen, Texas outside the Omni Dallas Hotel.
Mayor Howard Wiggs of Lakeland, Florida said improving education at all grade levels is a top priority, but he also wants to tackle another problem that plagues cities across our nation.
“There’s a broader look now among mayors at things like poverty,” he said. “The difference between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' is a concern.”
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says about 260,000 residents struggle to put food on the table every day; that’s about one in four people. It’s a sobering statistic all mayors are committed to changing.
“We know that mayors are getting things done,” said Mayor Wiggs.
They are optimistic that after years of struggling through the recession, the U.S. is turning a corner on the road to a more robust recovery.
A new report released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors reveals that by 2016, nearly three-quarters of all metro areas will have unemployment rates below six percent.
“When you look at some of the polarization that's taking place in Washington, I think that Washington is starting to look towards cities and mayors to accomplish things that — because of the partisanship — they have not been able to accomplish in Washington,” said Wiggs said.
This weekend, the mayors are also considering a resolution that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. Since Congress is deadlocked over what to do, city officials are speaking up.
“How we should have a more unified voice looking towards Washington, D.C. and how we can better communicate our message as one rather than many smaller voices,” Cosper said.
The mayors are also talking about what makes cities stand out and which ones have the best quality of life.
The mayors of New Orleans and West Sacramento were awarded first place honors in the 2014 City Livability Awards Program on Saturday.
An outstanding achievement award was given to Arlington, Texas.