Beaumont Mayor Nancy Carroll was among 90 female mayors across the United States who met at the White House on Sept. 20 to discuss issues affecting their cities such as education, small businesses and the housing crisis.
Carroll said she received an official invitation, then a follow-up phone call from the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Carroll said that there were mayors of large cities in Ohio, New York and Minnesota, but there was a good representation of mayors from Riverside county including La Quinta, Canyon Lake and San Jacinto.
On conference day, the mayors were given a tour of the White House. Carroll said she had never gone on the tour, even though she had been to Washington, D.C.
The afternoon began with opening remarks by Vice-President Mike Pence, whom Carroll sat across from in the front row.
Carroll said she had a feeling they wouldn’t see President Trump since he was out of town.
But she enjoyed seeing Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, who spoke to the mayors about what more they can do as communities for military families.
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke for 20 minutes, then took questions from the mayors.
DeVos talked about apprenticeships and vocational programs, areas that Carroll feels strongly about.
“I’ve always been a firm believer in apprenticeships,” Carroll said.
Not everyone can afford to attend a four-year university, Carroll said, and students need to take courses in vocational programs that will help them learn bridging skills.
Linda McMahon, administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, answered more questions from the mayors of the larger cities. McMahon said that there are programs available for small businesses.
The event also featured a workforce and economic development panel regarding the housing crisis, keeping things affordable, infrastructure, transportation and quality of life, Carroll said.
The employment of tomorrow needs to have its roots in today’s workforce, Carroll said,
“Many of the jobs we have today didn’t even exist 10 years ago,” she said.
Leaders need to envision job training so that there is adequate employment in the future, said Carroll.
Another panel was shared priorities, with assistant to the president Kellyanne Conway and two other assistants.
Closing remarks were by William Crozer, special assistant to the president and deputy director of Intergovernmental affairs.
Carroll said he stressed local control for cities and that women need to have a voice in their government.
The Office of Intergovernmental Affairs is a newly-staffed office, said Carroll, and that they want to reach out to local governments to match the resources to the needs of the cities.
Carroll said that one of the topics that came up during the afternoon session was that many resources are directed toward large urban cities and the more rural communities are not getting the attention they need.
Riverside county mayors said they are working to strengthen Riverside county’s voice to attain resources for this area.
Carroll said she is working on follow up communications with the contact points for these programs and she let the group know about Beaumont’s progress on infrastructure and economic development and the current progress on wastewater and recycled water.
Carroll took with her to Washington D.C. an information packet created by Beaumont city manager Todd Parton that she used when talking to federal representatives.
Carroll said she is scheduling a follow up meeting with the Riverside county mayors so they can pursue the needs in their communities, along with funding.