Over the past several weeks our Coalition membership has grown to over 50 mayors from small cities throughout California, including Big Bear Lake, Del Mar, Fontana, Glendora, Montclair, Novato, Orange, Sanger, Turlock, Yorba Linda and Yucaipa (see the full list here). The Coalition was formed so that California’s smaller cities could work together and speak as one to voice concerns on the critical economic and local issues related to COVID-19 to both State and Federal elected officials and agencies.
And while we know that the Big 13 Cities in California are regularly talking to the Governor, we too have been fortunate to have both State and Federal leaders join some of our recent weekly Coalition member calls. This has included Fiona Ma, California State Treasurer; Congressman Harley Rouda, Representing the 48th District of California; Jason Elliott, Senior Counselor to the Governor; Reggie Salvador, Chief of Legislative and External Affairs at CalOES; and Robert Edmonson, Speaker Pelosi’s Chief of Staff.
During these calls we have been able to share what it has been like for cities on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically highlighting the devastating impacts our communities are experiencing — revenue loss and budget cuts amounting to millions of dollars, local businesses struggling and unemployment rising, after school and community programs cut, and much-needed infrastructure projects delayed for an unknown amount of time.
We have also been able to clearly express what our small cities need in order to continue caring for our residents — a fair distribution of relief funds that will treat every Californian and every City equally; a mechanism for cities to to receive direct allocation of funds without having to pass through the county level, which could create damaging delays; an increased testing capacity so that all individuals may have access to testing; programs geared toward workforce development so that residents who have lost their jobs can become/stay employable; and more.
While these discussions were not always the easiest to have, they were needed. And each State and Federal representative engaged fully with our members and answered our tough questions with honesty and openness. We look forward to continuing these conversations moving forward and engaging additional representatives at both the State and Federal level.