Mayors unite to discuss, combat issues impacting cities

Rochester Hills hosts United States Conference of Mayors fall leadership conference

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published October 16, 2019

 United States Conference of Mayors President and Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett welcomed over 50 mayors to the organization’s fall leadership conference meeting Oct. 3-5. The organization held a press conference Oct. 4 at the Royal Park Hotel.

United States Conference of Mayors President and Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett welcomed over 50 mayors to the organization’s fall leadership conference meeting Oct. 3-5. The organization held a press conference Oct. 4 at the Royal Park Hotel.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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ROCHESTER HILLS  — Earlier this month, nearly 50 bipartisan mayors from across the country gathered in Rochester Hills to discuss issues impacting cities, share solutions, and learn about the initiatives and businesses driving the resurgence of metro Detroit.

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett — who serves as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more — co-hosted the organization’s fall leadership conference meeting with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

“To be a mayor, you’ve gotta be very strong in one-on-one politics, so the Conference of Mayors are people who have been highly successful. To emerge out of all the mayors in America as president of the conference, that tells you that among politicians, Bryan Barnett is the best of the best,” Duggan said.

The conference kicked off Oct. 3 with dinner at the Royal Park Hotel, which was followed by a tour of downtown Rochester.

During a press conference at the Royal Park Hotel Oct. 4, Barnett said he was thrilled to welcome his friends and colleagues to the city.

“This is a bit of a dream come true. I have been the mayor of Rochester Hills for 13 years, and for 13 years I have traveled to their communities and listened to all the great things that they have been doing and always wondered if I could get them to come to mine,” he said.

On Oct. 4, the group held meetings to discuss things like gun safety legislation, preparations for the 2020 census, responding to the opioid crisis, meeting Clean Water Act mandates and more.

The mayors were briefed on federal programs designed to support cities by Scott Turner, the executive director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, and they toured the Rochester Hills-based FANUC America, which specializes in robotics, computer numerical control systems and factory automation.

On Oct. 5, the group visited Detroit to meet with business leaders, toured the Michigan Central Train Depot, stopped at the new Detroit RiverWalk park and the Detroit Institute of Arts, and visited Wayne State University to discuss entrepreneurship with Chris Ilitch.

Mayoral leadership, according to Barnett, is needed now more than ever.

“We recognize that in the action or inaction of our friends and colleagues in Washington … mayoral leadership in America’s cities is what is going to make a difference for residents, our constituents, and ultimately move our cities forward,” he said. “Across the country, it’s mayors that are leading the revitalization of America’s cities. It’s mayors who are thinking about the problems differently and delivering innovative solutions. It’s mayors who are refusing to allow polarization to get in the way of progress.”

U.S. Conference of Mayors Vice President Greg Fischer — the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky — said mayors enjoy getting things done because they are accountable to residents.

“We know that for America to be strong, our cities need to be strong as well, and I can tell you that our mayors stand ready to take care of business,” he said.

For more information about the U.S. Conference of Mayors, visit www.usmayors.org.

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