WATERLOO — Mayors across the country will be in Waterloo next week to interview presidential hopefuls about issues facing cities.
The “Local America” forum to be held Dec. 6 at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex already has participation commitments from five of the candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination and is working to attract others.
Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart on Tuesday announced the event to be hosted jointly by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the nonprofit Accelerator for America, which will be in the city for a regional meeting.
Candidates planning to attend are South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and businessman Tom Steyer.
Hart said organizers are still hoping former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris will be able to attend.
The forum, which will be televised and open to the public, will be moderated by mayors.
“It won’t be a formal debate, but it will be interviews from mayors to candidates,” Hart said. “I think it’s very important to have a mayor’s perspective over local issues that we face every day and be able to have a conversation with our candidates.
“Mayors are that last stop between the public and government,” he added. “Mayors are the ones that you’ll see in grocery stores and you’ll have conversations about what’s taking place in our local communities.”
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Other mayors expected to participate in the forum include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who co-founded Accelerator for America; Rochester Hill, Mich., Mayor Bryan Barnett, current president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors; Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin; Hartford, Conn., Mayor Luke Bronin; Reno, Nev., Mayor Hillary Schieve; Lansing, Mich., Mayor Andy Schor; Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley; and Salt Lake County, Utah, Mayor Jenny Wilson.
Hart, who is a member of the Accelerator for America advisory council, also will be at the forum, where key issues will include city infrastructure needs.
“What about our roads? What about our overall infrastructure?” Hart said. “We’re hoping that’s one of the conversations.
“Another one is: What type of urban agendas do you have for our communities, and what does that mean to you? What about our main streets? What about our ability to be able to work with historic preservation?”
Accelerator for America is a national group that brings city, business and labor leaders together to share best practices and focus on federal Opportunity Zones and transportation issues. Mayors on the Accelerator council will be meeting for two days in Waterloo ahead of the forum.
The forum will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live by Mediacom on channel MC22 in more than 300 Iowa communities and markets in Illinois and Minnesota. It also will be livestreamed at iowastartingline.com. Free tickets are available at the Iowa Starting Line Facebook page.