This article appeared in the February 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
I experienced three remarkable things over the last few days: the peaceful transfer of power from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration, a true hallmark of our democracy; another fantastic Mayors’ Day Conference in Atlanta; and the Atlanta Falcons winning the NFC Championship (Rise Up!). The one that hits closet to home and is most impactful to me is, of course, our annual Mayors’ Day.
What happens when we meet in Atlanta each year ... from seeing old friends and making new ones, attending outstanding training courses, delving into policy issues, recognizing exceptional city achievements to city officials’ training accomplishments ... is important. It’s important for us individually, but more so for us collectively. Our annual trek to Atlanta is a recognition of the fact that we need each other. The truth of the matter is that the needs and aspirations we have for our individual communities can sometimes only be met when we join forces and allow our diversity to make us stronger.
Government’s function is to lay the groundwork to make our communities and state prosperous. We heard that from Governor Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle and Speaker Ralston at the Legislative Networking Breakfast, as well as in in our policy committee meeting discussions and training courses. As you well know, a day doesn’t go by where city leaders across the state aren’t grappling with policy and budgetary decisions that directly impact the prosperity of their community.
From responding to the effects of Mother Nature, as our friends in Albany, Adel, Valdosta and other communities have had to do, to investing in and building our transportation and utility infrastructure, providing for affordable housing, policing our streets, and building and financing our parks and recreation facilities, our hometowns are a fundamental driver of Georgia’s economic success and high quality-of-life.
When I became GMA President in June, I spoke of the simple fact that our job as local officials is to lead, and that true leadership requires one essential element: Action. By participating in Mayors’ Day, our training program, attending the Annual Convention, or any of the other opportunities available through GMA, city officials are taking meaningful action to confront the challenges they face.
It’s a daunting task to tackle the issues confronting our communities and state. In his keynote address at Mayors’ Day, Georgia Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black demonstrated that it is best that we don’t run from our obligations; rather, it is better to face them head on, and to be catalysts of positive change in our communities.
I’m extremely proud of GMA, and what it does on the behalf of city officials, our residents, our employees and our communities. It is only through your continued effort and leadership that GMA and Georgia’s cities will be successful. Thank you for courageously confronting the challenges we face, and not running from your obligations. Working together through GMA, we can indeed Rise Up!