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Mayors gather to share ideas, tackle issues
Mayors conference pic1
Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth had an opportunity to discuss local and national issues with mayors from across the country and those just down the road, like Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh. Soiseth is pictured here with Marsh, Conference CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. - photo by Photo Contributed

The populations and attributes of Turlock and Los Angeles may vary greatly, but that didn’t stop Mayor Gary Soiseth and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti from finding some common ground in the essentials of governing a city: making sure the police are on patrol; that the garbage is picked up; and that water flows when the tap is turned on.

The two men were among the hundreds of mayors in attendance at the 83rd U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual meeting. The event, held in San Francisco last week, featured addresses from President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The annual meeting includes a bevy of committee and task force meetings, as well as workshops on issues ranging the gamut of day-to-day city functions to tackling social ills to improving the quality of life for residents.

“The conference as a whole is not about recreating the wheel,” Soiseth said. “It’s a chance to meet fellow mayors and with that you find other cities are dealing with the same issues. We all have a seat at the table.”

Soiseth is on the Veterans Affairs task force and the Mayors Water Council, which passed a resolution during the conference in support of the Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act. The Act, if passed, would increase investments in repairing and replacing aging water systems and in long-term water storage and usage needs.

“It’s a challenging issue,” Soiseth said. “Back East they are dealing with an aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced if they are going to keep delivering water. While for us, we have all the infrastructure we need. We need the molecules running through it. We need the water.”

The conference also serves as a free exchange of ideas and Soiseth said one notion in particular sparked his interest in seeing it implemented in Turlock.

“The mayor of Anaheim started this program called a ‘million acts of kindness,’” Soiseth explained. “It could be anything from talking to the new kid at school to visiting an elderly neighbor. It’s about making the quality of life better for everyone in the city.”