Lessons learned at ­mayors’ conference

I’m honored and thankful to have had the opportunity to represent Concord at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) earlier this month.

USCM is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Its primary roles are to promote the development of an effective national city and metro area-focused policy, strengthen federal-city relationships, ensure that federal policy meets urban needs, provide mayors with leadership and management tools enabling them to do their jobs better and making them more effective as leaders, and create a forum in which mayors can share ideas, information and best practices.

This year, 224 U.S. mayors convened to exchange ideas around the themes of “Innovation, Inclusion and Infrastructure.” Members represent small towns and big cities, rural and urban areas, the coasts and the heartland. This made the annual meeting an incredible opportunity to connect with mayors from Kalamazoo, Mich., to Honolulu, from Redmond, Wash., to Gulf Shores, Ala.

I literally had a seat at the table where the nation’s mayors develop policy positions to be ultimately distributed to Congress and the president.

I participated in roundtable discussions with fellow mayors on issues that challenge all cities, including crumbling roads and bridges, cyber security, economic development, homelessness, public safety, the recycling crisis and the Federal Communication Commission’s concerning role in potentially eliminating all telecommunications-related fees.

I let my fellow mayors know that GoMentum Station at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station is shaping how people travel and that through the research and technology being developed there, we aim to reduce congestion globally and create great jobs in Concord. I also enjoyed a lively conversation on how cities can best work with universities to increase collaboration and improve outcomes from successful partnerships, keeping Concord’s future campus district in mind.

Since grass and urban fires have become a big concern for our Concord community, I thought it important to join in a “FIRE OPS 101 Program” as a “firefighter for the morning.” After suiting up in full gear, I rotated through multiple stations, learning how to use life-saving equipment, techniques for breaking down a door and practicing how to properly administer CPR. I appreciated this unique, hands-on opportunity to get a better understanding of the resources needed for firefighters and emergency medical personnel to safely and effectively respond to emergencies and keep the public safe.

On the final day, I participated in a “Community, Permanent Housing and Hygiene Services Tour,” which included two cutting-edge programs that have been successfully serving the homeless community: Kahauiki Village and Punawai Rest Stop.

Kahauiki Village is a permanent housing community for homeless families developed by a public-private partnership with the aio Foundation, the state of Hawaii and the city/county of Honolulu. I walked through three of the 30 completed units, viewed an additional 113 under construction and met several residents who both live and work in the village.

The Punawai Rest Stop, located in a former pineapple processing plant, is a state-of-the art hygiene center with free restrooms, showers and washers/dryers for the homeless community. I saw that health services, respite housing and permanent supportive housing units are also under construction on higher floors of the building.

It was empowering to share common challenges and ideas to strengthen our cities with other mayors. I look forward to sharing what I learned with my City Council colleagues and city staff and to putting this knowledge to good use to make Concord an even better place to live, work, raise a family, do business, visit and retire.

Send questions and comments to Carlyn.Obringer@cityofconcord.org