National League of Cities News Beat

A letter from NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers

On Nov. 16, 2013, I handed over the gavel as President of the National League of Cities to Chris Coleman, Mayor, St. Paul, MN, at the organization's annual business meeting during the Congress of Cities & Exposition held in Seattle, WA. I have been deeply privileged as an officer of the NLC, to spend the past three years advocating on behalf of cities and towns around the country.

It's a role that I could not have imagined had it not been for the support and encouragement of my fellow members at the League of Arizona Cities & Towns, the Avondale City Council and staff from both. As a result of being an active and engaged member of our state league and working with so many inspiring Arizona local leaders, I was encouraged to play a more prominent role at the NLC, which is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities, and serves as a resource and advocate for over 19,000 cities, towns and villages.

What a ride it has been! I took the reins as NLC President during a time of great changes within the organization's history, including the hiring of a new executive director and the undertaking of a three-year strategic plan for NLC. My first days in office as NLC President were dealing with the prospect of sequestration, and it continued with the budget fight, the government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling. I had the opportunity to travel all across the country, visiting other state leagues, and attending high-level meetings at the White House with the President, members of his administration and with members of Congress to ensure that the voices of government at the local level are heard. I even had the privilege of joining the First Lady for the President's State of the Union.

As your NLC President, I pushed hard for three key legislative issues this year: The Marketplace Fairness Act, which protects local businesses by giving them a playing field with online retailers, while allowing cities to collect taxes that are already owed; protecting cities' ability to offer tax-free municipal bonds, which pay for roads, schools, bridges and economic development activity; and Comprehensive Immigration Reform, which is key to the economic vitality of our communities.

There has never been a more important time for our nation's cities and towns. Our communities are constantly evolving and we as leaders must be increasingly more innovative, flexible and resourceful. I have learned that it really does not matter if you come from a big city or a small city. Local governments are all facing ever-changing times, and many of our issues are the same. That is why it is so important for elected officials to connect with each other, through our state league and NLC, in order to strengthen our knowledge and ability to lead our cities and towns through these changes and challenges.

I wish to recognize Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh of Mesa, and Mayor Mark Mitchell of Tempe, for their service on the NLC Board of Directors, and congratulate League Executive Director Ken Strobeck for being elected to board this year. I would also like to commend the Arizona leaders who currently serve on an NLC policy or advisory committee. I had the honor of appointing many of you to these committees during my tenure, and I am so proud of the work that Arizona local leaders are doing on behalf of cities and towns across the nation.

In closing, I would like to offer my deepest gratitude to everyone who came along on this remarkable journey to the NLC presidency with me. I have been deeply moved by your support, and proud to represent Arizona on the national stage. I look forward to the next chapter by continuing to stay engaged and focused on serving the best interests of the people in our wonderful communities.

League of Arizona Cities and Towns
1820 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ  85007
Phone: 602-258-5786
Fax: 602-253-3874

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