LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton, along with one hundred mayors from around the country and a dozen mayors from Georgia, met with President Donald Trump Wednesday.
The main issues addressed include infrastructure needs and supporting law enforcement. Staff also discussed the desire to push decision making down to a local level and reduce the timeframe for infrastructure projects. The meeting was abbreviated from the original schedule because the President had to depart for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The President spoke to the group of mayors in the East Room of the White House and spoke for about fifteen minutes. He did not have time to take questions. The President’s speech emphasized his commitment to our nation’s infrastructure and his support of law enforcement among other topics.
After the President departed, the mayors had an opportunity to meet as a group and then individually with several staff members, including: Justin Clark, Director of White House Intergovernmental Affairs; Jeffrey Rosen, Deputy Secretary of Transportation; D J Gribbin, Special Assistant to the President for Infrastructure Policy; Ryan Fisher, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; and Pam Patenaude, Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
These staff members answered questions and also offered to be points of contact for mayors with federal issues.
Much of the discussion with staff centered on the desire to push decision making down to a local level and to reduce the timeframe for permitting of infrastructure projects.
The group also discussed the need for infrastructure projects to demonstrate a “return on investment” in terms of new jobs, businesses, housing starts, and other economic progress.
Mayor Thornton shared with individual staff members the history of infrastructure investment made by LaGrange.
“The successes we have had in industrial recruitment based on our robust infrastructure, and how the structure of the federal infrastructure bill could reward those cities that are willing to invest in themselves,” Thornton said.
The group also had a few minutes of conversation with Vice President Pence. He discussed the plans to unveil the one trillion dollar infrastructure bill after the State of the Union address, and he reemphasized the administration’s strong support for local law enforcement.
The Vice President also discussed the administration’s desire to bring a “servant’s attitude” to federal policy, encouraging mayors not to hesitate to ask for federal help.
“Regardless of political affiliation, these goals were embraced by the mayors,” said Thornton.