This article appeared in the January 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
The New Year is upon us and each new year brings the General Assembly back into session. I believe each of the 236 members of the state house and state senate have the best interest of the taxpayers in mind as they pursue changes and corrections to state and local laws. This time is a critical time for each city official—elected or appointed—to make an effort to educate these well-intended individuals with the issues that impact cities and how we can work together for solutions.
City officials have many opportunities to do this with Mayors’ Day this month in Atlanta, telephone calls, emails and personal visits. Don’t think of making these connections on an “as-needed” basis, the goal is to build a long-term relationship with your legislators. When we can develop trust and confidence that works both ways, then we will see our local and state decisions move everyone forward. Legislators have a broad range of issues they consider each session. The number and variety can be staggering and they rely on the experts to provide them with facts and honest feedback. There are no better experts on municipal government than the men and women serving in municipal government.
GMA was founded to give cities the opportunity to speak with one voice and help all cities improve each year. At the same time, a new Congress will begin the federal process that looks at a national agenda for cities. Again, we need to form a lasting relationship with our respective congressmen and our two distinguished senators. If they don’t know city issues, then it is our fault and our expectations will only remain expectations.
The responsibility for establishing these critical relationships is on us. Let’s make it happen and get to know those we have elected to be our representatives at the state and federal level. Let’s begin this new year with positive results for our cities.