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If I had a chance to do it all over again, I’d start right where I did and continue to serve my community… My community didn’t have a library when I got elected…So, as you think about service, it’s about purpose. It’s about impact… And I’m so excited about the future of cities, the leaders that are going to be elected and the impact that the National League of Cities has had the last 100 years and the impact that cities have had the last 100 years.

Clarence Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities

The responsibility of U.S. mayors expanded dramatically at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as cities of all sizes were forced to reckon with aging infrastructure, dated public health procedures, and a dramatic drop in revenue and activity within their urban cores. This historic disruption in communities compounded upon many other issues which local leaders in the 10X region and beyond have been grappling with in recent years, including increased climate risk, homelessness, and immigration.

In short, the work of operating a city has never been more complex or crucial than it is today. Therefore, local leaders need the requisite amount of government and community support to be able to build more adaptable, inclusive, and resilient communities.

However, there are barriers to this goal which will need to be addressed. In 2023, more than 650 state preemption bills were introduced to attempt or successfully prohibit local policies regarding education, housing, workforce standards and rights, public safety, and LGBTQ+ protections. The National League of Cities (NLC) also found that 81% of public servants surveyed in 2021, reported experiencing some form of harassment from their constituents since the start of the pandemic.

With 2024 being a presidential election year, much of the public’s attention on U.S. politics will be directed away from cities and toward the federal government. As critical as this decision will be, this conversation between Ten Across founder and NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony is a helpful reminder of the influence local leaders have on the trajectory of the nation, as they are the ones closest to the reality and needs of their constituents.

Also be sure to check out Clarence Anthony’s CitiesSpeak podcast where he examines critical issue facing local leaders today, featuring conversations with elected leaders and policy experts from across the country.

Articles referenced in this episode:

“Why state and local relationships matter to national prosperity: A case for economic collaboration” (Brookings, January 2023)

“The Changing Landscape of Preemption” (The National League of Cities, February 2022)

“On the Frontlines of Today’s Cities: Trauma, Challenges and Solutions” (The National League of Cities, November 2021)

“Metro Phoenix is in dire need of apartments. Here’s how developers are getting it done” (The Arizona Republic, January 2024)

Guest Speaker

Clarence Anthony is the CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities, the largest and oldest organization representing America’s cities, towns and villages. He began his career as mayor of South Bay, Florida for 24 years. He also served as interim manager of United Cities and Local Governments and founded Anthony Government Solutions, a government and private sector consulting firm.