Local Officials Seek Answers from Presidential Candidates on Important Domestic Issues

By Appel, Sherry Conway | Nation's Cities Weekly, October 18, 2004 | Go to article overview

Local Officials Seek Answers from Presidential Candidates on Important Domestic Issues


Appel, Sherry Conway, Nation's Cities Weekly


Carrying the message that the American people want straight answers from the Presidential candidates on the local issues that matter most to them, leaders from three national organizations representing towns, cities and counties across the country traveled to Tempe, Ariz., last week.

At a news conference held just prior to the final debate, elected officials representing Republicans, Democrats and Independents from the National League of Cities (NLC), the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), said their message was simple: Tell us your plans to address job growth, education, rising health care costs, affordable housing, transportation and crime. That's what's important to hometown America.

"We are just not getting answers to the profoundly important issues facing our communities--what are the candidates planning to do to improve the job market, boost the quality and quantity of affordable housing, assist us in securing a better education for our young people?" said NLC President Charles Lyons, selectman from Arlington, Mass.

Directing his remarks to the two candidates, Lyons added, "The time for partisan bickering and mudslinging is long past. We need to know what your administration will do in the coming four years to ensure that every American has a real chance to achieve, enjoy and sustain something we call the American Dream."

Job growth was on the minds of several speakers.

"America's strength has always been locally driven, in its communities," said USCM President Donald L. Plusquellic, mayor of Akron, Ohio. "The country has lost more than 600,000 good-paying jobs over the last four years. The American people want to know--and deserve to know--the specific plans President Bush and Senator Kerry have to improve this significant job loss. Our people are suffering and they need real answers now."

"Jobs and economic development continue to suffer in rural America--which is why we need a strong partner in Washington," said Bill Hansell, president-elect of NACo and commissioner of Umatilla County, Ore. "The citizens of rural America are hard working and industrious, but they need jobs. They need better health care and improved transportation systems so they can use their skills. The presidential candidates must promise to make an investment in the citizens of rural America."

Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz also spoke about the difficulty facing local elected officials in creating a climate for economic prosperity while having to face federal issues over which they have little or no control. …

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