2 Oklahoma Mayors Visit Washington For US Conference Of Mayors

Two Oklahoma Mayors, Mayor Holt from Oklahoma City and Mayor Joyce from Stillwater, are in the nation's capital this week for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Thursday, January 18th 2024, 5:25 pm



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Mayors from across the country, including two from Oklahoma, are in the nation's capital this week, meeting with top administration officials and leaders in Congress, not to mention sharing valuable information and experience with each other.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors holds its winter meeting in Washington every year. It’s three days of informational sessions and meetings, some official but many arranged on the side.

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, the Conference's 2nd Vice President, says there's one overriding idea driving it all: "What’s good for cities is good for America."

Mayor Holt, whose attendance at USCM meetings dates to his days as Chief of Staff for former OKC Mayor Mick Cornett, says it's an objective truth that most of the economic and cultural activity in the country -- Oklahoma included -- occurs in its cities.

"So, we want to make sure that policy makers here in Washington are always thinking of us and our challenges and opportunities," Holt said in an interview Thursday.

The other Oklahoma mayor in town for the conference is Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce. Joyce, now in his second term, says water infrastructure -- specifically, the pipeline from Kaw Lake -- is one of his city's current challenges, so he's looking for any opportunities for federal funding.

"We’ve got a lot of improvement projects that are in line for that facility," Joyce explained in an interview during a break Thursday morning, "there are new regulations coming out from the EPA that require us to make some upgrades."

Like most cities and towns in Oklahoma, Stillwater has a 'weak' mayor system, meaning, among other things, Joyce has another full-time job, and going to Washington in January isn't necessarily easy. But he says it's worth it. 

"Stillwater was selected this year for the FEMA technical assistance program," Joyce said, "which is sort of a pre-grant program that only a few cities throughout the country qualify for and are awarded. And I think that opportunity was something I learned about here."

Holt says Oklahoma City also benefits from doors that conference attendance has helped to open.

"As one example," he explained, "we just opened a Bus Rapid Transit line, the Rapid up Northwest Expressway and Classen, that was made possible by a federal grant that we got back in 2019."

More than 300 mayors are at the winter meeting; the two from Oklahoma say it's exhausting.

"I went to bed very early last night because it is a lot," Joyce said. "There’s a lot going on and a lot to do."

The conference wraps up Friday with the mayors all invited to the White House to hear from President Biden.

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