With the state foreshadowing some belt-tightening, things
could get worse before they get better. Now more than ever, we
need to keep fighting to ensure that the cities have the
resources they need to help our most vulnerable residents.
I have learned that by working together through Cal Cities, all
our cities are stronger, and our advocacy is even more effective.
The importance of working with a unified voice is magnified as we
approach the end of 2022.
I started this year with just one goal: To help all of us, as
city leaders, re-energize and put new vigor into our collective
work to improve the quality of life of all Californians. Little
did I know, the year would turn out to be so much more. I learned
valuable lessons that will serve me well beyond this year as
Local governments are viewed as the most trusted level of
government. When cities have the trust of the public,
they foster robust public engagement and community
collaboration. Most importantly, public trust leads to
better decisions. In her message this month, League of California
Cities President and Walnut Creek Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Silva
outlines three foundational pillars for building and maintaining
After months of negotiations, Congress passed the $1.2 trillion
bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. If your city
is like mine, you have a long list of infrastructure projects
that need funding. The challenge is that the federal
infrastructure package is incredibly complicated, encompassing
hundreds of separate programs across multiple agencies.
Local leaders are astutely aware that the pandemic is not over
and that our local communities continue to reel from its public
health and fiscal impacts. Despite this uncertainty, city
leaders continue to press forward as we chart a path to recovery.
And prudent financial decision-making will be critical in our
On any given day in any newspaper across the country, you’ll most
likely find a story chronicling how communities of color have
been hit hardest by the pandemic, and how economic recovery in
these same communities is occurring at a much slower rate. The
facts make it very clear that the pandemic accelerated and
exacerbated many of the already-existing inequities in our
communities around income, housing affordability, and
The League of California Cities Board of Directors elected Walnut
Creek Council Member Cindy Silva to serve as 2021-2022 President
during the Annual Conference and Expo. For Silva’s first
“President’s Message,” she talks about the future of cities, and
shares her view of Cal Cities as a place where local officials
can work together to tackle challenges, capitalize on new
opportunities, and move forward for the betterment of all
One year ago, League of California Cities President and El Centro
Mayor Cheryl Viegas Walker shared her thoughts about the role of
city leaders in a time of unparalleled challenges and
uncertainty, as well as her vision for the future. Now, as her
term draws to a close, she looks back at the successes of the
The immediate and secondary impacts of climate change can be felt
deeply in our communities, but we as city leaders have a
responsibility to our residents and future generations to
mitigate these impacts as much as possible. Cities are leading
the way in finding innovative strategies to protect their
communities from climate change and cultivate healthy and
As COVID-19 positivity rates continue to decline and vaccination
rates increase, California city leaders are shifting from
around-the-clock pandemic response to developing plans for
long-term economic recovery. The resurgence of local economies is
key to our nation’s recovery from a devastating yearlong
pandemic, and as city officials map out equitable recovery
efforts in their communities, inclusive economic development
strategies must be a core component of these long-term
The decisions that we make every day as city leaders, especially
housing and land use decisions, cannot be made in a vacuum. All
city services and programs must be viewed through a lens of
equity, and this new Advancing Equity Advisory Committee will
play an integral role in identifying how cities can recognize and
eliminate disparities in our systems.
In December 2020, city leaders who serve in leadership positions
for the League of California Cities divisions, departments,
policy committees, and diversity caucuses convened virtually for
the annual League Leaders program, to chart the organization’s
priorities for 2021. Developing member-driven and -informed
strategic advocacy priorities is key to the effectiveness of Cal
Cities’ advocacy efforts on behalf of cities.
It’s helpful to remember that leadership isn’t always about
remaining stoic and displaying optimism. Allowing yourself to be
vulnerable is both human and acceptable, especially in
relentlessly difficult circumstances.
The impacts of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis
police officer and the injustices his death exemplifies are being
felt on our streets, in our businesses, and in every city and
town in California, across the country, and throughout the world.
When early reports of infection showed California was among the
states with the highest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases,
local and state leaders stepped up, taking action to slow the
spread of the virus and protect vulnerable populations.
Attracting new businesses, retaining employers, and providing
opportunities for a skilled workforce are essential to fostering
a healthy economy in our cities. California cities are using
diverse approaches, programs, and tools to help support economic
development and thriving communities.
Communication and collaboration are cornerstones of the ability
to lead, and the League’s positive relationships with legislators
are key to cities’ successes in the Capitol. Cultivating open
two-way communication with our state leaders is essential to
protecting the interests of cities and our residents.