NLC Focuses on Early Primary States for 2016 Presidential Elections Task Force

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This is a guest post by Emma Lieberth.

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to the crowd at the Iowa State Fair. The former mayor of Burlington, Vt., Sanders is one of four former mayors running for president.
Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to the crowd at the Iowa State Fair. The former mayor of Burlington, Vt., is one of four former mayors running for president.
The author, with (clockwise, from top left) 2016 presidential candidates Rick Santorum, George Pataki, Hillary Clinton and Ben Carson at the Iowa State Fair.
The author, with (clockwise, from top left) 2016 presidential candidates Rick Santorum, George Pataki, Hillary Clinton and Ben Carson at the Iowa State Fair.

The Iowa State Fair has become a rite of passage for candidates on both sides of the political isle vying for the highest office in the land. Presidential stump speeches on the fairgrounds are as popular of an attraction as the food on a stick and famous butter cow. Over the course of three hot and humid days, I took part in the festivities on behalf of the members of the National League of Cities (NLC). On the road to 2016 and beyond, we’re determined to make sure the concerns of local officials and the communities they serve are addressed by the candidates.

“Local officials in Iowa have more access to Presidential candidates than any other state in the country,” said Alan Kemp, Executive Director of the Iowa League of Cities. “The issues that NLC fights for are not partisan issues. These are important issues that matter to local governments across the country. It’s important for the 2016 candidates to hear from us.”

Several candidates took turns speaking at the Des Moines Register Soapbox while others just stopped by to visit with caucus-goers. The candidates largely spoke about their plans for healthcare, views on Planned Parenthood, immigration and threats to national security; and while these are critical issues that need to be addressed, I didn’t hear much about what their plans are here at home surrounding economic development, the country’s infrastructure and ways to improve public safety. In the recent 2015 State of the Cities Report released by NLC, economic development was the most commonly addressed topic in mayoral speeches followed by infrastructure and public safety.

Iowa State Fair attendees cast their votes with corn kernels.
Iowa State Fair attendees cast their votes with corn kernels.

As we get into the race for President, NLC is dedicated to being the voice for city leaders and bringing the conversation around local issues to the forefront of the 2016 race and reminding the next administration about the issues local officials face daily.

In March 2015, NLC President Ralph Becker, mayor, Salt Lake City, Utah, named a bipartisan group of 17 city officials and state municipal league executive directors to serve on the NLC 2016 Presidential Election Task Force. The goal of the task force is to raise the visibility of city issues during the presidential election cycle, the task force will develop an actionable plan that includes tools and resources for NLC members to engage candidates on city issues.

Representing the National League of Cities at the Iowa State Fair.
Representing the National League of Cities at the Iowa State Fair.

Next month, we will be releasing our platform on issues critical to local governments. NLC wants to be a resource for the every campaign on issues surrounding local governments and will be reminding the candidates of their importance. We encourage local officials around the country to join us – let’s speak up and let our voices be heard.

About the Author: Emma Lieberth is the Program Manager for Strategic Partnerships at the National League of Cities. Follow her on Twitter @emmalieberth.