LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed dozens of mayors across the U.S. today to speak about his concerns for American democracy, but he offered hope in the form of the nation's mayors and local communities, calling them the ``last best hope to save our deeply divided and troubled democracy.''
In his final general session speech at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which the termed-out mayor has attended 18 times, Garcetti said he came ``with a much more urgent message about our democracy.''
``My love for this country is extreme but through my love for America, I can see that extremism is killing the America that we love. Our inability to find a common language, a common space, let alone common projects and policies, is eroding our progress here at home, endangering our competitiveness abroad,'' Garcetti said.
He spoke about the ``hyper-partisanship'' in both Washington, D.C. and state capitals, which he said was leading to ``the steady decay of our body politic, our infrastructure and our international competitiveness.''
Across the U.S., the mayor warned, Americans have lost trust in its government, the media, American businesses and all people registered to another political party.
``If this moment doesn't scare you, I don't know what will,'' Garcetti said. ``When misinformation about everything from medicine to electoral counts dominates, it feels like we no longer hold any truths to be self evident.''
While the mayor spoke at length about his concerns for democracy and the state of the U.S. -- saying that ``extremism is killing the America that we love'' -- he offered hope in the form of mayors in the U.S., who he believes has risen above partisan politics to make real differences in their local communities.
``Mayors are taking action to improve people's lives today,'' Garcettisaid, adding that across the U.S. mayors have shown they are able to solve problems in their cities and build consensus and movements to create change in communities.
Calling local communities America's ``last best hope,'' he highlighted local action taken in Los Angeles, including raising the minimum wage, launching a guaranteed basic income pilot program and working to get to 100% renewable energy in the city by 2035.
He pointed to New York and San Francisco allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections and highlighted the diversity of America's mayors, noting the first Muslim mayor of Dearborn Michigan, Mayor Abdullah Hammoud; the first person of color and first woman mayor of Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu; and recently elected Black women who are leading cities across the U.S., including St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, Durham, N.C. Mayor Elaine O'Neal and Lima, Ohio Mayor Sharetta Smith.
``What I learned as mayor is when things seem intractable here in Washington, go to Boston, or go to Austin, or hundreds of other American cities and witness who we are and you will see people getting things done,'' Garcetti said.
The 2022 U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting began on Wednesday and will run through Friday. Mayors from U.S. cities with more than 30,000 residents will hear from congressional leaders, Biden administration officials, foreign ambassadors and other experts.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors began in 1932 during the Great Depression, when cities across the country were facing bankruptcy and millions of people were unemployed.
This meeting, which 179 mayors are scheduled to attend, is the conference's 90th Winter Meeting. The 90th Annual Meeting is scheduled for June 3-6 in Reno, Nevada. During the annual meeting, committees recommend policy positions to be adopted by the conference, and each member is given the opportunity to speak about an issue and vote on each resolution. The adopted policy positions are meant to represent the views of the nation's mayors and are given to Congress and the president.
Other Southland mayors who registered for the Washington, D.C. meeting are Melissa Ramoso of Artesia, Daniel Lee of Culver City, Blanca Pacheco of Downey, Farrah Khan of Irvine, Robert Garcia of Long Beach, Heber Marquez of Maywood, Brenda Olmos of Paramount, Monica Sanchez of Pico Rivera, Sue Himmelrich of Santa Monica and Patrick Furey of Torrance.