This article appeared in the Ocotober 2018 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
s city officials and local government leaders, we recognize the value of partnerships. In our cities, we know that to be successful we must work together to achieve success. Successful relationships are built through hard work and effort. It also takes commitment of all parties. These efforts begin with communication, understanding and mutual respect. By listening and looking for common ground, we build trust. Trust, in turn, allows us to work to achieve shared goals.
Such is the path of partnership that GMA and ACCG have chosen. In September, the two associations, represented by nearly 60 city and county leaders, held a historic, first-ever joint meeting of each association’s respective policy-making bodies. Facilitated by the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government, the two associations and their policy councilmembers spent the day forging relationships and developing a spirit of collaboration and cooperation. The results of the day showed how much cities and counties have in common and how the two organizations can be stronger and more effective by working together. Importantly, it also fostered a commitment to how differences of position can be handled in the future.
The results of the day included agreement on two overarching policy areas that cities and counties believe are critical for local government success.
- “Home Rule” protection to mitigate pre-emption by state or federal governments
- Preventing unfunded mandates
In addition, the members worked in small groups to develop consensus on other policy areas of joint agreement. These include:
- Mental health and substance abuse
- Service delivery framework for better efficiencies
- Infrastructure funding
- Community development, particularly addressing blight and rural development
- 5G Internet deployment and protection of local control over rights-of-way
- Fiscal accountability
Over the course of the day all those involved felt the energy and excitement in the room. Hard work, laughter and breaking bread together led to the conclusions that we are stronger together, that we serve the same citizens and taxpayers and with communication we can minimize conflict and maximize cooperation. In the coming year, we hope to plan joint local government days at the Capitol to stand together on issues of mutual interest and concern. This will certainly send a powerful message and no doubt strengthen both organizations in support of cities, counties and the citizens we serve.
Two quotes from the day really bring home the sentiments shared by many in the room at the days conclusion.
As GMA’s LPC Chair and Dublin Mayor Phil Best said, “We want the same things, more local control and less preemptions and unfunded mandates. Together we can work to fight for those things that we both hold near and dear to us.”
Union City Mayor and GMA Second Vice President Vince Williams quickly echoed this sentiment, saying, “We all serve the same people; let’s try to always keep this fact in mind.”
It’s exciting to build upon the successes ACCG and GMA have enjoyed in the past while planning for even greater successes by working together with mutual respect in the future.