On Sunday, the leading presidential candidates once again took to the stage to answer questions from voters during the second presidential debate. While much has been said about who won or lost the debate, we wanted to hear directly from city leaders about the status of the election and the candidates’ attention to the issues that matter most to cities. Following the debate, NLC opened an online snap poll, asking local elected officials if the presidential candidates are addressing the issues that matter most to cities. Almost 500 mayors and city council members responded. Here are the results:
1. A majority of local elected officials agree that neither of the leading candidates is sufficiently addressing the issues that matter most to cities.
Improving public safety, investing in infrastructure, and strengthening the economy: these are the three most pressing issues facing cities today and the core of our Cities Lead 2016 Agenda. In response to questions about the most pressing issue facing their city for the presidential candidates to address – and if the candidates are sufficiently addressing these issues on the campaign trail – a majority of local elected officials responded that infrastructure investment is at the top of their list and is followed closely by the economy, and that neither candidate is sufficiently addressing either of these issues.
2. Local officials believe Hillary Clinton will be a better partner for cities.
Cities need a strong partner in the White House. We need a president that’s not only a leader, but also a listener and collaborator. Addressing our nation’s challenges requires a strong intergovernmental partnership between federal and local governments. While local elected officials stand ready to partner with whomever is the next president, we wanted to know who city leaders believe will be the better partner for cities. The snap poll revealed that a majority of local elected officials believe that Clinton will be the better partner.
3. Local officials believe Clinton will win the election.
Local elected officials have a unique perspective on the state of the 2016 presidential race. They are in the trenches, tackling the tough issues our cities face every day and in many cases are running their own campaigns for reelection this year. As such, city leaders have a good pulse on the electorate, and we asked which presidential candidate they think will the general election, regardless of who they plan to cast their ballot for on Election Day. The snap poll revealed that an overwhelming majority of local elected officials believe that Clinton will win this November.
Overall, the results from our snap poll tell us that the candidates still have work to do to show us their plans for addressing the issues most important to cities and how they will partner with city leaders as the next president. With 80 percent of Americans currently living in cities, the presidential candidates can’t afford to ignore the concerns of local leaders.
To ensure that the voices of city leaders are heard loud and clear in the remaining days of the general election, take action today and urge the candidates to #StandWithCities. In sending a letter to or tweeting at the next president about the most pressing issue facing your city, we can make sure that the candidates prioritize city issues in this election and throughout their administration. Together, city leaders and the next president can work to address the social, economic and fiscal challenges weighing on the nation’s cities and create a brighter future for all Americans.
About the author: Ashley Smith is the Senior Associate, Grassroots Advocacy at the National League of Cities. Follow Ashley @AshleyN_Smith.