The Magic of Cities

John Reid, GMA President

June 25, 2012

John Reid
 John Reid
The following is Eatonton Mayor John Reid's prepared remarks after being sworn in as GMA President during GMA's 2012 Annual Convention.

It is an honor to stand before you today as president of GMA.

I’ve served in elected office in Eatonton close to 20 years now; 11 as a council member and 9 as mayor.

My vision for Eatonton over those 20 years has been simple. I want Eatonton to be a beautiful, safe and healthy environment for its citizens.

My dream for my hometown is of a city where prosperity, peace and fellowship are found.

Today, you’ve given me the opportunity to bring a piece of that vision to all of Georgia’s cities during my term as GMA president.

Thank you.

I think it is important that our theme this year is "The Magic of Cities."

On one hand, that term can evoke images of enchanting, beautiful places. And we have that in Georgia.

But as we saw in our opening video yesterday, there is something more to the “magic” found in our cities.

Cities are hubs of innovation and creativity. They are the foundations of our economy.

Most importantly, whether large or small, cities are where people come together to solve their problems.

Not because I say so, but because others say it.

Economists, political scientists, philosophers and artists have said this through the ages.

Today’s greatest thinkers believe that cities are the key to our nation’s future.

Don’t believe me? Go do a search on the Internet; you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.

The United States is indeed the land of opportunity.

But as economist Edward Glaser says, to walk the streets of our cities “is to study nothing less than human progress.”

You see, the “magic” of a city isn’t the institution of the city government.

The “magic” of a city is what happens in the city … and why it happens … and who makes it happen.

Then what is the government’s role in all of this?

Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America, believes that “government is at its core, what we can do together that we can’t do alone.”

She also believes that government can be the platform or connector that allows people to help themselves and to help others.

She sees government as more than a service provider. Do you? I think we should consider that possibility.

Let’s look at our city governments as the connector between people, businesses, schools, churches, the arts and every other institution that is concerned about our civic life together.

Being the “connector” requires leadership that cares more about results than being in control.

It’s about collaboration and fostering the best in people and institutions instead of simply giving orders.

It’s about seeing the big picture but also understanding that others have a role in painting that picture.

Cities provide connections between people. Those people, once connected, spark creativity, innovation and problem solving in one another.

That’s the “magic” of cities. And that is exactly what is needed to move our state forward.

I hope you’ll join me over the next year as we continue to work to make our cities and state a place where prosperity, peace and fellowship are found.
Thank you and God bless.