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Mayor attends forum in D.C.
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas - photo by Courier file photo
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas joined 230 mayors from across the nation last week to meet with President Barack Obama and other high-level officials in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Mayors of cities with populations of 30,000 and greater met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, cabinet members and congressional
representatives to discuss such issues as unemployment, energy, the environment and transportation.
Thomas was one of four Georgia mayors to attend the conference. The other three Georgia cities whose mayors attended the conference were Valdosta, Macon and Atlanta.
Thomas said Hinesville “is blessed” in comparison to some of the cities represented at the conference.
“A lot of the cities throughout the United States face some of the same challenges we do, but many of them are in worse shape,” he said. “Some of those cities are just starting to creep up the economic ladder.”
According to, by the end of 2011 more than 105 U.S. cities will have unemployment rates higher than 10 percent and 214 American cities will have unemployment rates higher than 8 percent.
At the mayors conference, the 2010 Metro Agenda for America was presented. The plan calls for job creation through direct funding to cities, an updated transportation bill, green energy initiatives, improved airport security and continued funding for community development block grants and youth employment programs.
“President Obama spoke to us last Thursday,” Thomas recalled. “We met in the east wing of the White House. He spoke for maybe an hour.”
The mayor said most of the questions posed to the president regarded unemployment and stimulus funds, both of which were to be addressed in the president’s State of the Union speech broadcast on Wednesday.
Thomas said he and other mayors also heard the heads of various agencies and other elected officials speak, such as Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, White House Urban Affairs Director Aldofo Carrion, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder.
U.S. mayors also met with the mayors of Hiroshima, Japan, Florence, Italy, and Mexico City, Mexico, he said.
After the national conference ended, Thomas traveled to Atlanta for the Georgia Municipal Association’s Mayor’s Day Conference.
Thomas said he attended an Excellence in Utilities course that taught city officials how to effectively manage municipal utilities such as gas, electric, water, sewer and cable. He also attended a number of policy committee meetings, including one on community development. In addition, Thomas and other mayors discussed issues impacting Georgia’s cities which will be up for debate in the legislature.

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