DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – More than 200 of the nation’s mayors descended on Dallas for the summer U.S. Conference of Mayors.
While the mayors have winter get-togethers in Washington, the summer meetings go into the heartland. Dallas gets a chance to showcase itself to the country as the mayors huddle for problem-solving sessions.
It started in an unusual fashion early Friday morning. Aerobics and a continental breakfast on the Continental Street Bridge provided an initial welcome, then there was a quick return to the routine of addressing shared challenges, as Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings introduced some two-dozen attendees.
“There are a lot of problems in America and these are the folks that are tackling them day in and day out,” he said.
Among the visiting leaders was the group’s current president, former NBA star Kevin Johnson, who is the mayor of Sacramento, California.
He said the group’s intent was clear. “We want to share best practices, we want to beg, we want to borrow, [and] we want to replicate what other mayors are doing in our cities.”
Mayor Johnson laid out five areas he wants addressed: education, infrastructure improvements, ways to mitigate what he called climate change, increasing trade and exports, and issues tied to income inequality.
On the last item, the mayors themselves reported good news on the economy from an annual report commissioned by the group.
“Sixty of our metro economies have regained their lost jobs by 2015,” said Columbus, Ohio Mayor Michael Coleman. “We’re turning the corner on this recovery.”
Dallas-Fort Worth is especially blessed, where the same report showed the area having the 6th best economy in America. The amount in 2013 was $440 billion — putting it in the Top 20 of the world’s best economies.
“With nearly half-a-trillion, in a sense, GDP in this area, I think that’s very encouraging,” Mayor Carl Sherman of DeSoto told CBS 11 News.
But Sherman worries the area may stumble unless transportation infrastructure issues are addressed. “Our roadways… we’re really trying to catch up,” he said. “We really understand that our roads are not equipped for the growth that we are seeing.”
The mayor’s conference continues through Monday.
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