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Infrastructure continues to top US mayors' agenda

Technology-driven solutions to traffic and pedestrian safety were among those that stood out in the National League of Cities’ annual State of the Cities report.

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The report analyses more than 150 annual speeches from mayors across the US
The report analyses more than 150 annual speeches from mayors across the US

US mayors are focused on grounded solutions to critical national issues with economic development and infrastructure continuing to top their agendas, a new study finds.

 

The National League of Cities (NLC) sixth annual State of the Cities report analyses more than 150 annual speeches given by mayors from cities, towns and villages across America.

 

Biggest issues

 

While economic development and infrastructure ranked highest, the report found that sub-topics including climate change and the opioid epidemic revealed that mayors are having nuanced conversations about the issues hitting their communities the hardest.

 

“While Washington talks, mayors take action. As the government that’s closest to the people, mayors work every day to reach across the aisle, bring people together, and find solutions that help our residents,” said Karen Freeman-Wilson, president of the NLC and mayor of Gary, Indiana.

 

“Whether you’re talking about infrastructure or climate change, mayors know that local action is critical to making our cities, towns and villages more sustainable and economically competitive. The State of the Cities report shows that mayors are addressing these issues head-on and are planning for the long-term health and wellbeing of their communities.”

 

The report analyses 10 major issues and 185 related sub-topics. The top 10 issues in 2019 are:

  1. Economic development (74 per cent)
  2. Infrastructure (57 per cent)
  3. Health and human services (46 per cent)
  4. Energy and environment (41 per cent)
  5. Budgets and management (41 per cent)
  6. Housing (38 per cent)
  7. Public safety (37 per cent)
  8. Demographics (32 per cent)
  9. Education (20 per cent)
  10. Government data and technology (11 per cent).

 

Over the past four years, infrastructure has risen steadily in the rankings to take the second-place spot in 2019.

“While Washington talks, mayors take action. As the government that’s closest to the people, mayors work every day to reach across the aisle, bring people together, and find solutions that help our residents”

This year, technology-driven solutions to traffic and pedestrian safety also stood out when mayors talked about infrastructure. Traffic calming strategies and flow improvements, including synchronising traffic signals and redesigning intersections, were cited by mayors as ways to improve access to amenities and enhance safety.

 

NLC and local leaders are urging federal leaders to pass comprehensive infrastructure legislation this year. A strong federal-local partnership is important to ensuring that infrastructure investments are made in the projects that best serve local communities.

 

State of the Cities is a first-of-its-kind report that benchmarks the top issues that mayors are talking about and the factors driving those priorities. The issues and sub-topics were identified through a content analysis of State of the City speeches delivered between January and April 2019.

 

The analysis only included an issue or sub-topic if a mayor indicated a specific plan, goal or impact for 2019 or the future.

 

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