As political polarization deepens and divisions between us widen, the Freep brings a feature on a sunny political optimist in Rochester Hills.
Mayor Bryan Barnett, recently elected president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is using his elevated platform to spread a gospel of progress and, yes, bipartisan cooperation.
Outlandish. Have you ever?
It’s our local units, he says — from big cities like Detroit to growing towns like his suburb of 75,000 residents — that are running well, offering fresh solutions to big problems, and picking up the slack left by gridlocked state and federal lawmakers.
“So many good things are happening in America’s cities – most of the job creation, most of the innovation,” Barnett says, adding: “I think we’re going to see, more and more, that local elected leaders are America’s best hope for real change.”
(Sounds like good news for Pete Buttigieg, anyway.)
Barnett is a sunny soul in any environment, Laitner writes,
...well-known in his own town for sporting zany socks, well-known at City Hall for wearing an outlandish red-and-white Christmas suit for the annual holiday party, and well-known in Oakland County as one of the area’s most popular politicians.
Sounds like a cool guy. Barnett believes that where Big Government fails, Small Government can succeed:
Key urban issues such as these and others are built into the written agenda of the group Barnett now leads. That agenda is called “Mayors’ Vision for America: A 2020 Call to Action.” The 28-page document has Barnett’s name at the top. Its goals embrace a spectrum of issues top-most in the minds of the nation’s most respected mayors, bridging both political parties. . . from “Protect and Advance Human and Civil Rights” to “Invest in America’s Water and Wastewater Systems,” from “Join with Mayors and Police Chiefs to Support Public Safety for all” to “Fix Our Broken Immigration System.”
The mayors’ next move, led by Barnett, is to make waves with the “Mayors’ Vision” statement at the group’s annual winter meeting next month in Washington, D.C., Jan. 22-24.
That's a big order for Rochester Hills, but it's almost 2020. We have to believe in something.