This article appeared in the April 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
The annual festival season begins in earnest with the advent of spring. These local celebrations laud the unique character, products, natural resources and traditions of our individual cities. Later this month, many of our cities will be celebrating Georgia Cities Week
, one of GMA’s popular initiatives. “Georgia Cities: In the Mix” is this year’s theme and will be celebrated April 23-29. I hope your city is participating, and if not, I encourage you to consider doing so in 2018.
The activities we see each year during Georgia Cities Week range from those that are fun, such as concerts and 5K races, to opportunities to engage our residents through open houses and city-wide cleanups. This celebration provides a great opportunity for us, as city leaders, to celebrate the uniqueness of our communities, our city’s achievements and those individuals, both city employees and volunteers, who contribute to its success.
This year’s theme serves as a clarion call for city officials to remain actively engaged with our residents and visitors who are directly impacted by the decisions we make in City Hall; it also calls us to connect with those whose decisions impact local government. Clearly and unquestionably, we must be attuned and attentive to what is going on in our home communities. It is equally important for local leaders to reach out—through involvement in GMA’s training and programs, to engage regionally and to stay “in the mix” in Atlanta and Washington D.C.
I’ve had the privilege to visit a number of cities across the state during my term as president of GMA, and through the years, I’ve made numerous visits to Atlanta and Washington D.C. on behalf of my city and the association. My conversations with local officials and those at the state and federal levels have reinforced my long-held conviction that what we do at the local level is vital to the prosperity of our state and nation. Although we are citizens of our country, and proud residents of Georgia, the local level is where we live, work and play, and where the impact of governmental policy is most readily felt. It is up to us to work toward creating an intergovernmental environment that allows us to tackle the challenges we face.
The demands that an increasing population bring to the state are experienced at the city level. Services crucial to the economic prosperity of all Georgians are provided by cities on a round-the-clock basis. In order to meet these demands and to provide the fertile local economic environment required to create new jobs, cities make investments in water and sewer infrastructure, integrated transportation systems, economic and downtown development projects, parks and recreation facilities, public safety and other capital needs.
While these are locally focused activities, they require us to work with our neighbors as well as with our friends at the state and federal levels. If you haven’t visited your House or Senate member in Atlanta or back home, you need to do so, now. If you haven’t contacted your member of Congress or Sen. Isakson or Sen. Perdue, reach out to them, today. Visit a neighboring city. Participate in GMA training, workshops and meetings. Make these priorities, now.
As we celebrate our communities’ accomplishments during Georgia Cities Week this year, let’s remember that we need to stay “in the mix” to make our voices heard and to keep moving forward.