Wild: Mayors should be part of Plan B conversation
As state leaders drive around Plan B for how to fix Michigan roads, they need to bring to the table those people residents trust most and are looking to for solutions: mayors.
There are many successes happening on the city levels from the revitalization in Detroit and everything Mayor Mike Duggan has been doing to Warren Mayor Jim Fouts touting the $1 billion investment from General Motors that will spur economic development.
Many mayors beyond Detroit and Warren are celebrating successes. They run deep and wide. Just look at Romulus, Southgate, Flat Rock, Taylor, Woodhaven, Livonia, Dearborn and so many other cities that are moving forward with creative leaders at the helm.
Because cities are where people live, work and play, our state leaders need to engage the mayors in the conversation on issues that affect the state's population.
Our roads are one of those major issues.
As mayors, we grapple with larger issues more and more as residents turn to us to be pragmatic problem solvers.
When I talk about cities, I often point to a U.S. Conference of Mayors/Zogby poll, which shows that while American trust in elected leaders has declined, mayors rank higher among the public than the president, their governor, Congress and their state legislature.
As mayors, we live in the communities in which we serve and so we bump into people at the grocery store, movie theater and while out to dinner. We are approached on a regular basis about all kinds of issues and concerns, including roads.
Not only do residents express concerns but they often suggest solutions.
We need to raise those conversations up the political chain and to the state level as problems are discussed.
If the state wants to know why voters kicked statewide Proposal 1 to the curb, just ask the mayors.
We have been told all the reasons directly from voters' mouths.
As mayors we are responsible for fixing our own roads with limited funding and we have been successful in many of our cities despite the challenges.
The measure that was supposed to raise the sales tax to 7 percent as well as auto registration fees fell because not everyone who needed to be solving the problem was invited to do so.
Let's make that Plan B. Invite mayors to the table as the next proposal is crafted.
I supported the proposal because I saw value with good schools, roads and extensions in earned income credits for low-income families in addition to state shared revenue for the communities. I supported it based on the fact that we needed to fix the roads and it was the best plan presented thus far.
However, I understood there was a significant failure rate largely because you can't sell a plan to the people when you did not have local leaders helping to craft the proposal or engaging them before rolling out the plan.
Michiganians look to mayors for direction, support and for answers.
We need to be able to help solve problems in order to confidently present solutions to our residents.
We need to be coming up with solutions from the beginning and not just asked to support a plan that was created solely at the state level.
These issues are not limited to roads.
We, as mayors, should be talking with state leaders on talent retention, job creation, economic development, education, shared revenue and global competition.
If we want regional cooperation and state success, elected leaders at all levels of government need to be collaborating and conversing on a regular basis. This is not about political wins and bipartisan successes. This is about creating communities, counties, regions and a state where people want to work, raise their families and retire.
As Lansing determines its next move, it should seek ideas from Michigan's mayors. We are on the ground working every day with the residents who will ultimately vote on the plans proposed at the state level.
William Wild is the mayor of Westland.