INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - More than 200 mayors from almost every major city in the United States are meeting in downtown Indianapolis this weekend.
The 84th annual U.S. Mayors Conference is underway, with major political players and pop icons on hand for it.
But the context of this year’s mayor’s conference is a different one. It’s a presidential election year and nearly two weeks since the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
“Formally and officially, welcome to Indianapolis,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett (D – Indianapolis).
The host city Mayor, Hogsett welcomed more than 200 of his mayoral counterparts Friday from every corner of the U.S.
Welcomes though quickly turned to talking about the pressing policy issues the mayors are eager to discuss.
“We want the candidates and Congress to know, the road to the White House goes directly through cities,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D – Baltimore).
The 2016 U.S. Mayor’s Conference will deal directly with persuading presidential candidates to listen to the problems plaguing U.S. cities.
“If there were an enemy on a battle field overseas and 500 Americans were being killed every two or three weeks, how would the nation respond?” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D - New Orleans).
Much of the mayoral conversation this year is surrounding the recent mass shooting in Orlando. Many mayors, including Landrieu see the weekend’s conference as an opportunity to push Congress into action on gun control.
“In the meantime, when the war’s being waged on the ground, we’re fighting it every day and everybody’s waiting on Congress to act because everybody knows and everybody’s on the same page that the streets of America need to be safe and we should do what’s necessary to make that happen,” he said.
“There’s absolutely no way that I can tell someone that because of a political difference, I will not be picking up their trash today. But that is the norm in congress,” said Rawlings-Blake.
The importance of this year’s conference was not lost on Indianapolis city officials. Hillary Clinton, the Dalai Lama, and Lady Gaga are drawing national media attention and a $1.5 million economic to the city.
“We deliberately picked this year because we knew it would be a presidential election year. There would be more hype, more attention drawn to this conference and that’s played out successfully with Secretary Clinton, the Dalai Lama,” said Chris Gahl, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Visit Indy.
The Dalai Lama and Lady Gaga, both known for their advocacy for humanitarian issues, will hold a discussion with the mayors on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon is when Hillary Clinton will speak. Donald Trump did not respond to an invitation to attend.