By Michaela L. Duckett, Special to the NNPA from The Charlotte Post –
Charlotte (NC) City Council member James Mitchell represents more than District 2 in northwest Charlotte; he’s the voice of more than 218 million Americans.
Mitchell is the new president of the National League of Cities (NLC), the nation’s oldest and largest organization representing 19,000 cities, towns, and villages across the nation.
With a mission of strengthening and promoting cities as centers of opportunity, leadership, and governance, the NLC serves as a resource and advocate for municipal governments.
“It is humbling that you are the representative for all elected officials throughout the country, and it is kind of daunting because it is a big responsibility,” he said. “In these tough economic times, cities are struggling. Revenues have fallen. Yet, the demand for services has increased.”
Mitchell will spend a great deal of his one-year term racking up frequent flyer miles, traveling back and forth to Washington, D.C., three to four times each month to discuss urban policy with members of the Obama administration. “I will spend a lot of time in D.C. lobbying and speaking on how cities and towns need to be the center of all bills passed in Congress,” he said.
This week alone, Mithcell’s schedule included meetings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, R-NC, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY. He also attended the president’s annual holiday party along with Mayor Anthony Foxx.
As NLC president, Mitchell will be charged with leading the league’s board of directors in shaping the organization’s priorities and directing advocacy, research, and membership activities.
Mitchell said his top priority is small business development. When he unveils his platform in January, Mitchell plans to announce initiatives that will help entrepreneurs gain more access to capital and advocate for tax breaks to help small business owners create jobs and venture opportunities.
He also plans to tackle the issues of economic development, sustainability, transportation, and infrastructure improvement, and immigration.
“If we as the National League of Cities do not take a proactive step in addressing immigration, then this issue can really continue to divide our country,” he said. “We need some of our leaders to step up and come up with some solutions.”
Mitchell said his role provides him with an opportunity to increase Charlotte’s visibility and increase the city’s profile on a national level. He believes Charlotte is a model for the country because it exemplifies a city thriving in the midst of economic turmoil. “We are fortunate that Charlotte has not had some of the fiscal challenges that other cities have,” he said.
Mitchell is in his sixth term on City Council. He chairs the Restructuring Government Committee and is vice chair of Economic Development and Planning and Housing and Neighborhood Developing committees. “Locally, I am trying to practice what I preach on a national level,” he said.
Mitchell has also created a National League of Cities president cabinet of 10 students majoring in public administration and political science at Johnson C. Smith University. They will accompany Mitchell to Washington in January and get hands on experience engaging in studying the impact of public policy. “That has been my legacy. As I move up, I try to bring people with me,” he said.
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