Mayors, Welcome to Miami Beach

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine will play host to 250 mayors attending an annual U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual meeting this weekend.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine will play host to 250 mayors attending an annual U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual meeting this weekend. MIAMI HERALD

Miami-Dade is hosting a special event this week: More than 250 of the nation’s mayors, from cities big and small, will gather in Miami Beach for the 85th U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual meeting, Friday through Monday at the Fontainebleau Hotel.

This is a prestigious, high-profile event for Miami Beach and Mayor Philip Levine, whose city will play host for the first time in more than 80 years. Miami was the site of the 2008 meeting.

Miami Beach is a fitting location for a coming together of mayors since its a city in transition in so many ways.

The mayors will arrive with a national agenda and also microscopic concerns — problems unique to their cities.

For example, Miami Beach is Ground Zero for the perils of climate change and it would be eye-opening for, say, the mayor of a landlocked municipality to hear from Levine what local residents experience during king tide flooding in a city by the sea and the innovations the city has adopted to help it survive the inevitable in the future. It’s a chance for some elected officials who might be climate-change skeptics to walk away with a new understanding.

However, the Conference of Mayors as a group supports the Paris Climate Accord, even though President Donald Trump has pull the United States out of the pact.

It’s an indication that mayors are on the front lines, tackling issues of national significance on the local level. In addition to climate change, count immigration and gun violence among them. And in many ways, the cities are taking the lead.

The mayors will discuss a wide variety of priorities that contribute to the overall health of America’s cities, as well as consider and adopt policy resolutions that guide the advocacy agenda of the entire organization.

Among the other topics impacting cities to be tackled: immigration and sanctuary cities, yes, but also healthcare, the federal budget, security and terrorism, community development, career training, transportation, criminal justice, affordable housing, and envisioning cities of the future.

So what should the mayors walk away with from their ambitious meeting agenda?

We hope the exchange of experiences and the sharing of ideas that work which they should take back home and execute.

Mayors should be thinking:

“What can I learn from other cities and what can I adopt to help my own city.”

Since the last conference, cities have seen a revolution in transportation issues, with Uber and Lyft becoming more prevalent, creating disputes with the taxi industry of many cities, the rise of Airbnb, lack of affordable housing, rampant gun violence, police shootings that rock cities to their core and other disruptors to normal city living.

And, in civic-booster mode, let’s hope Miami Beach walks away with some cash awards, totaling $1 million, given to cities with stellar best-practices in the areas of climate protection. Miami Beach is a leader in showcasing a city’s resiliency.

Unlike congressional and state lawmakers, mayors are often able to find common ground and work in a true spirit of bipartisanship.

We wish conference attendees a rich experience that will empower and allow mayors to return home bursting with ideas on how to make life better for those who live within their city limits. Mayors can lead the way.