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Published on Wednesday, May 28, 2014

AWC Launches Operation Strong Cities!

As cities and towns throughout Washington prepare to develop and adopt budgets for 2015, it’s the right time to be thinking about what your citizens and businesses need and expect from you, what resources you have, and how our State, in particular, can support your efforts. Within Washington’s 281 cities and towns reside most of our citizens and business activity, yet too many legislators and state officials seem to be losing sight of the fact that keeping cities strong is a key to keeping Washington a great state. See what AWC is doing to help drive home the Operation Strong Cities message.

Operation Strong Cities is going to take a multi-faceted approach, including but not limited to some of the following activities:

  • Informing Legislators. We’re working to inform legislators of the importance of continuing a fiscal partnership with cities and towns. However, it may not look like much of a partnership at the moment, as shared liquor resources and important capital funds like the Public Works Trust fund get reduced or raided. It also frustrates economic development when there aren’t sufficient funds to maintain the roads and transit systems we have, let alone build or expand them.
  • Candidate Questionnaire. AWC has asked the 289 candidates who have filed to run for 122 State legislative positions what they think about these issues. As responses trickle in, we’d like your help encouraging local candidates to take a few minutes to complete and return the candidate questionnaire. We will begin to post responses on June 10.
  • Municipal Champions. We’re also preparing to thank a few key legislators who have demonstrated a commitment to helping advance city interests over the past year. Municipal Champion award recipients will be announced next week, and cities represented by award recipients will be asked to arrange local presentations. We anticipate this being an annual award, and hope that legislators will continue to value the knowledge of knowing what cities need, and how to respond accordingly.
  • Legislative Priorities Survey. We’ve begun the process of identifying AWC’s 2015 Legislative Priorities with the appointment of a new and more focused AWC Legislative Committee. Invitations to serve are being sent to 40 city officials from around the State. The Committee’s first meeting will be held on June 18 during the Annual Conference in Spokane. You can help by filling out and returning the Legislative Priorities Survey which can help them know what’s important to you!
  • Let’s Talk. Finally, we’re looking for opportunities to come talk with and hear from you. Over the summer and early fall, if you have gatherings of city officials in your area and would like someone from AWC to come participate, just let us know by contacting Regina Adams (reginaa@awcnet.org). Additionally, we’re beginning to plan for new ways of connecting with you in the fall after the AWC Board adopts the legislative priorities at its October 3 meeting. We will be scheduling some traditional AWC Regional Meetings, but we’re also looking at sponsoring several regional forums via web simulcast which allow you to go to a central regional location or participate from your city hall or own computer.

The stakes are high, and the local/state partnership is under stress as never before. It takes individual and collective action to engage with legislators and legislative hopeful’s so they can understand your needs and perspectives as well as you understanding theirs.