Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin Chairs Women Mayors’ Meeting
By Nicole Maharaj
The Women Mayors held their first meeting of 2005 during the Conference of Mayors 73rd Winter Meeting on Tuesday, January 18. Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin is the current chair of the group and a recent recipient of the Governing Magazine 2004 Public Official of the Year Award. Franklin is committed to bringing increased change and vision to the Women Mayors’ Caucus. Franklin leads the caucus with a strong record of addressing important issues and accomplishing positive change.
The purpose of the Caucus is the following:
Brief new women mayors to the organization
Provide a network for participation and membership
Allow an informal time for discussion and issues of interest to women
Assist mayors with information in seeking higher levels of leadership within the organization
Forward policy recommendations to appropriate standing committees for adoption
Best Practice informational presentations were given by mayors from three cities: Cleveland (OH); Southfield (MI) and Lincoln (NE). Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell spoke about her “Downtown and Neighborhood Revitalization” initiative — a direct response to decades of residential and commercial urban sprawl, and the slow migration of the industrial and manufacturing markets that once drove Cleveland’s economy oversees. Campbell’s approach has reconnected and revitalized many of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, through a strong, safe and smart strategy.
Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence gave a presentation on her “Mayor’s Walk-A Healthy City” effort. This initiative is an eight-week walking program geared to foster physical fitness. All of the city’s residents, professionals and elected officials are invited to participate. Lawrence feels maladies such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and strokes have devastating effects on the community. Lawrence has been successful is garnering support from the Governor and the corporate sector in supporting her initiative. The mayor also is also engaged in actively supporting physical fitness outreach for children in the city in combating underage obesity.
Lincoln Mayor Coleen J. Seng focused her remarks on the following topic: “How to Pay as You Grow: Facing Up to Infrastructure Financing.” In 2001, the city faced a backlog of infrastructure projects at the same time when infrastructure needed for growth in the city was needed. Seng encouraged coalitions and weekly informational gathering as well as holding a series of workshops including representatives of neighborhood, social service, business and financial providers. Seng’s consensus leadership style is now helping make “infrastructure financing” now possible in the city. Options available to the city include: 1) increasing water and/or sewer rates; 2) holding a $75 million bond vote for street construction; 4) creating a joint city-county program to coordinate the design and road construction on the edge of the city to reduce costs; and 5) developing state legislation to change the gas tax distribution formula to increase street construction funds to the city.
Geraldine Laybourne, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Oxygen Media addressed the group as the special guest speaker. Oxygen is the only television network owned and operated by women. Laybourne spoke to the group about “Getting Heard” using the media, humor and other women to raise the voices and communication of women in the country. Laybourne expressed extreme support in knowing a caucus existed for women mayors to share their stories and information. “I am advocate of groups like this, where our hair can come down … even if it’s a three color process…and we can tell funny stories of where we-ve been, stories with lessons, and stories with warnings. Sticking together, using our sense of humor, being our best advocates, we can truly make a difference, said Laybourne. Quoting Ann Richard, former Democratic Governor of Texas, Laybourne ended with the following: “One cow gives milk, but a whole herd can start a dairy.”
Original Article: http://www.usmayors.org/uscm/us_mayor_newspaper/documents/01_31_05/franklin.asp