The 82nd Annual Meeting of the US Conference of Mayors began today in Dallas, Texas, and will last until Monday, June 23rd. Here, mayors from across the U.S. will gather to discuss hard-hitting issues, including the economy of cities across the nation, education, transportation, housing, climate change, help for returning Veterans, minimum wage, and more. Among the more than 200 mayors in attendance of this conference is Chapel Hill’s own Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.
“It’s a time for mayors from urban areas around the country to come together and speak with a voice, to send messages,” says Mayor Kleinschmidt, “not only to our local communities and states, but also to our federal government about what important things are happening in cities.”
Mayor Kleinschmidt says that one of the biggest topics of discussion this year is the relatively complex issue of net neutrality. Chapel Hill is currently undergoing its own significant changes regarding Internet accessibility with the recent alliance made with AT&T and the potential joint efforts with Google to create interconnectivity across the Triangle.
“It’s a conversation that can be difficult to have,” says Mayor Kleinschmidt, “but we want to make sure that access to broadband is available to everyone, and that there aren’t slow roads and fast roads for information and, depending on how big your wallet is, which road you are able to be on, and that there’s not discrimination among the content on the Internet. Being one of the first communities in the country to be able to access that, it’s important for us to be at the table and talk about the importance of net neutrality as we move forward; it’s going to be a big conversation here.”
In addition to co-sponsoring the net neutrality resolution at this year’s conference, Mayor Kleinschmidt has also said he is also a member of the Mayors for Peace group where he will sponsor the resolution that seeks to utilize the peace dividend that will reinvest towards returning Veterans, education, and transportation to benefit the community, as well as a LGBT equality resolution in order to educate his fellow colleagues around the country about the subject.
On the final day of the conference, the mayors will cast their votes and decide how these various national issues will be handled in their respective cities going forward and what subjects will take priority upon reconvening next year. Mayor Kleinschmidt says he is proud to work alongside these mayors from across the U.S. to improve their own communities.
“Here, I can stand with hundreds of other mayors from cities of varying sizes around the country, and we can make a statement, and we can demand to be heard,” says Mayor Kleinschmidt. “We’re going to stand together and hopefully make sure that the common sense policies are prevailed in that controversy.”