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The strength of a city is the combustion engineering that takes place inside it.— Mayor Christopher A. Doherty
Mayor Christopher Doherty of Scranton, Pennsylvania believes that Americans understand the important role that cities play for the economic and social prosperity of the United States. But he notes that no presidential candidate and, indeed, no leader at the national level is a fervent advocate for cities. This means that urban centers are still plagued by unfunded federal mandates that compel cities to fund policies implemented at the federal level, forcing mayors to divert resources from important local programs. This means, as well, that the lack of investment that contributed to the levy breaches during Hurricane Katrina – Mayor Doherty emphasizes that the levees should have been fixed so that a disaster could never occur – still persists.
“We know what the problems are in this country,” Mayor Doherty insists. “People know that you have to invest in cities. We’re waiting for someone to actually say it. We are waiting for someone to actually have the guts to come out and do it. The three candidates that are running for president now are all extremely talented and are very bright people. But there isn’t one of them who is really stepping away from the crowd to say, hey, we should go in this direction and we should do it.”
Mayor Doherty considers urban environments to be “combustion engines” where commerce flourishes and the exchange of ideas thrives. To facilitate this vital economic and social activity, cities must use taxes to fund the economic development and infrastructure projects that make cities desirable places to live and increase property values for residents. Mayor Doherty, though mindful of the heavy lifting involved in attracting federal funding for large-scale urban development projects, is optimistic. “Cities,” he says, “are coming back.”