Mayor Douglas Palmer of Trenton: “Cities are where it’s at”
“I really haven’t been completely satisfied about the conversation by the presidential candidates of both parties as relates to cities and the so-called urban agenda.”
As President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Douglas Palmer of Trenton has pushed hard for a national conversation about cities. Under his leadership, the Conference of Mayors developed an urban agenda labeled “Strong Cities…Strong Families…for a Strong America” that the Conference has used to press the presidential candidates to address city issues.
But the Mayor’s advocacy of a conversation about urban issues is not simply political. He sees cities as the drivers of national and global prosperity. “[Every year] the U.S. Conference of Mayors puts out our report on the metro economies. It shows how much the metro economies in the cities are important to our national economy. We continue to press upon how, with the right kinds of tax incentives…with the right kinds of investments for affordable housing and job training and creation, they help our whole global economy.”
Mayor Palmer views cities as places where important and innovative policies can take root and begin to resolve the challenges facing our nation. He is a champion of such a policy, Live Where You Work, that Trenton is currently implementing with the help of Governor Jon Corzine. Live Where You Work provides low-interest mortgage loans to homebuyers purchasing homes in towns – currently Trenton and Jersey City – where they are employed. “Live Where You Work helps us repopulate our area, especially in the downtown, with people with disposable income,” the Mayor explained. “It helps our tax base. It helps our image. It helps public safety…it also helps the local businesses because if you have more people living downtown and walking it opens up tremendous opportunities for retail and commercial businesses, as well.”
Mayor Palmer has noted that the presidential candidates have been eager for mayors’ endorsements during the campaign season. But he hopes that this eagerness will eventually translate into conversation about, and then action on, the 10-point urban agenda that he believes can spur American prosperity by focusing a national spotlight on the nation’s cities.