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U.S.: The Top Issues Mayors Emphasized in 2018 State of the City Addresses
Source: www.routefifty.com
Source Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: United States
Created: Jun 03, 2018

Infrastructure, budgets and housing have drawn greater attention this year than in 2017 in mayoral state of the city addresses around the U.S., according to a report released on Wednesday.

The National League of Cities fifth annual State of the Cities report analyzed the content of 160 mayoral speeches delivered between January and April. It covers speeches from mayors who hold office in cities that vary in size and are spread across the nation.

This year, as in each of the past four years, the NLC analysis found that economic development was the policy issue mayors brought up most frequently in their state of the city addresses.

But infrastructure, budgets and housing overtook public safety when it comes to the other areas mayors focused their comments on.

Public safety was the second-hottest topic last year. This year it fell to the fifth spot in the analysis, but still attracted strong notice. About 58 percent of mayors mentioned some aspect of policing in their addresses.

Christiana McFarland, director of research with the National League of Cities, explained that the broader topics that come to the fore in the report have remained relatively consistent over the years.

"The prevalence of major issues does not change," she said. "It’s the way that mayors are talking about issues that does tend to shift."

McFarland also noted that the broad categories that provide a framework for the analysis can mean different things in different places. "For example, what does it mean when the mayor of Atlanta talks about budget and management, versus the mayor of Akron?" she said, referring to a city in Ohio.

To help get at some of this nuance, the analysis also looked at 182 detailed subtopics in addition to the broader categories.

For instance, the most popular economic development subtopic in state of the city speeches this year was downtown development. That's compared to last year, when mayors put more emphasis on job creation and attracting businesses.

Another common theme in the speeches was tension between cities and other levels of government.

Nearly one in three mayors brought up intergovernmental relations, with an emphasis on the constraints imposed on them by their states or the federal government.

(By Bill Lucia)
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