Cities Spring Forward With Renewed Energy

April 5, 2021

By Vince Williams, GMA President

The events our country experienced this past year have impacted me intensely.

Our communities, state and nation have undergone stresses and strains that were unforeseen and for which we weren’t necessarily prepared. This upheaval has made me think more deeply about the role of cities in our society as well as what GMA brings to the table in these, and other, less stressful times.

For me, and I suspect for many of you, this last year has highlighted the importance of the positions we hold in our communities. While we were motivated to run for office for any number of reasons, recent events galvanized us to tackle shared issues. The need for us and our cities to find common ground and seek the common good has come into sharper focus. While the challenges before us today are humbling, I find that the turmoil of the past year has provided me with both a clarity of purpose and renewed energy.

The events of the past year also highlighted the role of cities and city leadership in our state, and for that I’m particularly thankful. It was with immense pride that I saw city officials across the state make tough decisions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, in the wake of racial unrest across the country, thoughtful and diligent local leadership was exemplified by the intense desire of so many of you to ensure that equity and inclusion are hallmarks of your community. All the while, city leaders continued to do the things we’ve always done to create the places we want to call home.

And when it comes to GMA, the organization established by and for cities, the past 12 months have shown its value to us each and every day. I couldn’t be prouder of our association. Providing the services that support cities, advocating at the state and federal level on issues related to COVID-19 and beginning to help us address inequality and exclusion in our communities—our association has been with us every step of the way. And the amazing thing is, there’s more to come.

GMA is working on public health issues with students at both the University of Georgia and Emory University, and has partnered with the National League of Cities on a wellbeing project. The association’s municipal workforce development efforts are ramping up with a significant workforce assessment and strategy project. New courses have been added this year to the association’s training program. Georgia City Solutions, GMA’s 501(c)(3), is diligently working to create a work program to assist cities tackling local challenges. And your association rolled out a vaccine awareness campaign for city officials to use. Learn more about this campaign here.

It’s been a tough year, no doubt, but I believe that this spring, we find ourselves in a time of renewal with much to look forward to.

Remember, I love you, and there ain’t nothing you can do about it!

This story originally appeared in the March/April 2021 edition of Georgia’s Cities magazine.

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