GR voices featured at US Conference of Mayors

WASHINGTON, DC (WOOD) — It didn’t take Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss long to realize, she wasn’t in Grand Rapids anymore.

“I stepped out of the airport and into a cab, and the cab driver all the way here was telling me his opinion about what’s going on in DC right now,” Bliss Wednesday morning as she attended to the Winter Meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors.

WOOD TV’s DC Bureau caught up with Bliss at the conference.

While they all have their opinions on impeachment, the mayors attending the conference are focusing on issues close to home, from providing affordable housing, to improving relations between police and the minority community, to making sure everyone’s counted in the census.

“Economic development is another big one,” Bliss said. “And how do you do that in a way that’s equitable and is reaching the folks in your community that typically don’t benefit from economic development. “

The city’s Equitable Economic Development and Mobility Strategic Plan unveiled Tuesday and is an example of the kinds of ideas shared at the conference.

The plan is designed to address what the city calls disparities among some residents despite economic growth.

But it’s hard to ignore the backdrop of this year’s conference — all of this happening in a town divided.

“It is interesting to be in this place where there is so much divisiveness and so much partisanship,” Bliss said.

But Bliss says the conference is all about local problems and solutions. 

“We all care about our city, and we all care about our community and we’re able to put our ideology aside to do what is best for our community,” she said.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors bills itself as the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more.