In Washington DC this week for her first meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Marilyn Strickland will join nearly 200 other mayors of American cities in a meeting today with President Barack Obama.
“She has been invited to the White House, where the President and his Cabinet are going to speak with them,” Randy Lewis, the City of Tacoma’s government relations officer, told me in a phone call from Washington D.C. today. “All of the mayors who registered and showed up are going.”
The U.S. Conference of Mayors, a nonpartisan organization of chief elected officials for cities with populations more than 30,000, holds an Annual Meeting at a different U.S. city and a Winter Meeting at the nation’s capital each year.
As this year’s three-day winter conference was loaded with “high level speakers,” such as Michelle Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lewis said, Strickland’s schedule in DC is focused on attending conference sessions. She didn’t have an opportunity during this trip to schedule meetings with members of Washington’s Congressional delegation, he said.
“It’s her first time (at the conference) so there’s a lot of networking and making contacts,” said Lewis, the lone city employee who joined Strickland for the trip. “But I expect Marilyn will want to meet with congressional members in the future.”
Strickland, who was a national delegate for Obama in 2008, is among five mayors from Washington attending this year’s conference. The others include Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, Redmond Mayor John Marchione, and Auburn Mayor Peter Lewis.
The group of Washington mayors met last night with Ron Sims, former King County Executive who now serves as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“He gave them some really good advice about how things have changed in applying for (HUD) grants,” Randy Lewis said. “It was particularly helpful.”
“The rules have changed so dramatically under the Obama administration,” he said. “You can’t just have a good idea for a housing project and go to HUD and get a grant. There’s a number of different (federal) departments now working collaboratively, and they expect you to have metrics to measure (a project) on all kinds of things. Sustainability, efficient use of land, a number of things.”
“Ron’s view is that the Puget Sound region is way behind other areas of the country in working with this kind of process,” Lewis added.
Strickland is expected to return to Tacoma tomorrow night, Lewis said.