More than 220 mayors from across the United States will gather at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort this weekend to share ideas about how to make their cities better.
Among those scheduled to attend the United States Conference of Mayors annual meeting are the mayors of some of the biggest U.S. cities, including Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Eric Johnson of Dallas, Martin Walsh of Boston, LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans, Francis Suarez of Miami, Michael Hancock of Denver, Sylvester “Sly” James of Kansas City and John Cranley of Cincinnati.
Also attending the
Friday-Monday meeting are a handful of municipal-level leaders from
Japan, including Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.
About 1,500 delegates are expected in all.
Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. ambassador to Japan, is slated to speak to the mayors Saturday morning. Her father, former President John F. Kennedy, gave a landmark civil rights speech at the June 1963 meeting held at the then-new Hilton Hawaiian Village, only months before his death.
Considered a seminal speech by some, the president spoke of Hawaii’s racial diversity as he warned the mayors that the heat of summer could contribute to civil unrest throughout the U.S. and he urged them to embrace racial integration and work toward achieving it.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said excerpts
of the late president’s speech, given at the
Hilton Hawaiian Village Long Room, were played to the organization’s leaders and that helped persuade the conference brass to hold its 87th annual gathering here.
Among those scheduled to address the
mayors Friday is Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. His focus will be on infrastructure investment.
Other notable speakers on the agenda include Second Lady Karen Pence; Mayor Karen Weaver of Flint, Mich., who will speak of her city’s water system recovery efforts; Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center; NAACP CEO and Chairman Derrick Johnson; and David Hogg, a gun control advocate after the mass shooting at his school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, took 14 lives.
Conference staff billed this year’s major themes as infrastructure, innovation and inclusion.
Another key component of the annual gathering is to adopt formal policies resolutions on matters of pressing interest. This year, more than 100 will be discussed and debated on topics ranging from anti-abortion legislation to vaping.
The formal gathering will be preceded today by a Climate Mayors Summit that will discuss legislation and policies to deal with climate change and global warming. It is being hosted by two groups — Climate Mayors and C40Cities.
Conference president Steve Benjamin, mayor
of Columbia, S.C., said
in a statement that it’s
critical for the cities to
“As the gridlock and
partisanship in Washington continues to escalate, mayors remain on the front lines working across the aisle every day for the well-being of the people who live and work in their cities,” Benjamin said, in a statement. “There’s no better time for the nation’s mayors to come together to work on their shared priorities and build a brighter — more inclusive — future for all Americans.”
Honolulu officials said they expect the 2019 meeting is expected to generate at least $3 million in direct spending for the Hawaii economy.
Most of the organizing for the meeting’s on-site activities is being coordinated by conference staff, with assistance from Honolulu Economic Development Executive Director Ed Hawkins and Customer Services Director Sheri Kajiwara.
City spokesman Andrew Pereira said about $3.3 million in corporate contributions are footing the city’s expenses for the event. The City Council chipped in $100,000, and Perreira said Hawkins has told him not all of that will be spent.
According to a list given to the Council from Hawkins, included among the sponsors are some of the city’s biggest contractors — Kiewit, AECOM, Covanta and Synagro, or companies that have had key legislation before the Council recently, including Airbnb, Expedia, Uber and Lyft.
All gave at least $25,000.
The largest contributors are Mastercard and the
Hawai‘i Convention Center, both of which contributed at least $500,000.
In exchange for the donations, depending on sponsorship levels, the sponsors receive entry to events as well as “naming, company recognition and potential speaking opportunities,” Hawkins wrote.
The city share, including the corporate donations, are supposed to pay for evening events, transportation to and from various locations, cultural demonstrations and displays and other ancillary costs, city spokesman Andrew Pereira said.
A loose-knit collection of critics of Caldwell’s policies — including those opposed to construction improvements at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park and Ala Moana Regional Park — are scheduled to hold “Save Our Oahu” rallies at Ala Moana Boulevard and Kalia Road Friday and Saturday mornings. A separate group is holding a “demonstration action for homelessness and housing” Friday afternoon.
Activist Choon James said participants are discussing an impeachment action against Caldwell.