New York Magazine


Nine U.S. mayors on what Washington, D.C., can learn from local government.

OUR NATIONAL POLITICAL environment might be paralyzed by partisanship, culture-war posturing, and erratic leadership, but our cities tend to be resilient, even when they’re flash points for national disasters, both natural and man-made. At least that’s the perspective of many mayors. One Saturday morning in early August, nine who were in New Orleans for the U.S. Conference of Mayors gave a couple hours of their time to discuss just why that’s the case—and why Washington might benefit from thinking more like them.

When you get together with your fellow mayors at an event like this, how is the mood different from the mood in Washington?

Karen Freeman-Wilson (D), Gary, Indiana: The great thing about meeting with other mayors is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent or a Libertarian, because we understand that at the end of the day, you have to get things done.

Pete Buttigieg (D), South Bend, Indiana: I’ve literally had situations where I’ve gotten to know a mayor, I’ve heard about something they were doing, I’ve called them for advice, and only then did I notice that they were from the other party. It just didn’t come up.

Eric Garcetti (D), Los Angeles: I think that mayors collectively are filling a national space that isn’t just the result of November’s election. We do kind of own a domain with our citizens where they are asking us not just to step up on local trash pickup but on climate change, immigration, and infrastructure. It’s critical at

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