The issues and challenges that Iowa cities face will get their time on the national stage early next month, as the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Accelerator for America brings a major presidential forum to Waterloo.
Mayor Quentin Hart of Waterloo will welcome candidates to his city to discuss topics from housing to transportation to civil rights and more at the Local America Presidential Forum, held on December 6.
Iowa Starting Line is the official media partner for the event.
So far, four Democratic candidates have confirmed they will participate: Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer. Buttigieg is the current mayor of South Bend, Indiana; Castro is the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas.
The candidates will take questions from both big-city mayors from around the country and Iowa leaders. The Accelerator for America organization, co-host of the event, is headed up by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“Of course Waterloo is in the thick of things in terms of presidential politics, but more importantly, the challenges we face and the solutions we’re applying are relevant to cities and towns across the country,” said Hart, a member of the Accelerator for America Advisory Council.
While many of the topics discussed at the Democratic debates have focused on national, wide-ranging federal issues, obviously all of them intertwine in some way with cities. And this cycle, most of the candidates have laid out extensive policy proposals on things like affordable housing, infrastructure and small businesses, though they don’t always get the same amount of attention as other contested issues.
“Mayors are on the front lines, and we need our leaders in Washington to join us there, to build our infrastructure, revitalize our main streets and secure people’s futures,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Mayor of Rochester Hills, MI, Bryan K. Barnett. “Cities and their metro regions are the clear drivers of the U.S. economy and we must have leadership in Washington that empowers them with policies that foster innovation and inclusivity.”
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is a non-partisan organization that represents a network of mayors of cities that have a 30,000 population or higher. The Accelerator for America group is a nonprofit that implements community wealth-building policies and shares them with cities across the country.
“As Mayors, we hear directly from the people we serve at the playground, at the supermarket — face to face. That’s the perspective we are going to put in front of these candidates,” said Garcetti. “We need real solutions that will build wealth for people who don’t have it.”
The Friday, December 6 forum will be held at the Cedar Valley Sportsplex in Waterloo. It will be a busy weekend for candidate forums. The following day, the Teamsters union will be hosting a forum on worker issues in Cedar Rapids.
by Pat Rynard