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The Progress We've Made in American Communities

President Obama has always pointed out that progress so often comes from local communities taking action.

We have made a tremendous amount of progress over the past eight years: 75 continuous months of job growth, over 20 million adults gaining health care coverage, a record-high high school graduation rate of 83.2%, and so much more.

President Obama has always pointed out that progress so often comes from local communities taking action. As Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett recently highlighted in her Governing Magazine piece, our Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) works every day to ensure that the Administration’s efforts incorporate state and local government leaders across the country.

Over the course of the Administration, IGA formed partnerships with state and local officials to inform the President’s policies; promote the importance of local actions and state legislation; and provide support for the wide array of initiatives state and local governments enact to improve the well-being of their constituents. In part because of this collaboration, those local communities, and the country as a whole, are safer, stronger, and more prosperous.

In the closing days of this Administration, it is important to note that the great work being done by so many state and local elected officials – including both Democrats and Republicans – will continue. Below, take a look at some examples:

Aja Brown (Mayor – Compton, CA): In November 2014, Mayor Aja Brown announced that the city of Compton would accept President Obama’s “My Brother’s Community Challenge” to address opportunity gaps and expand opportunity for youth in the city. Since accepting the challenge, Mayor Brown has hosted local action summits and released local actions plans to help Compton youth read at grade level by third grade, provide access to jobs and work experience, and reduce violence. 

Chris Lee (Assistant Majority Leader – Hawaii State House): As Chair of the House Energy and Environmental Committee, Representative Chris Lee has worked to combat the effects of climate change in Hawaii by using the state’s resources to protect beaches that are critical to Hawaii’s economy and ensure that everyone has access to a sustainable and safe supply of drinking water. By helping pass the Climate Change Adaption Law, Representative Lee established measures to protect key islands from rising sea levels and created an interagency climate council to coordinate climate actions across the state.

Tom Tait (Mayor – Anaheim, CA): Following President Obama’s community policing convening in July 2016, Mayor Tom Tait has continued to take steps towards finding solutions that promote partnership between police officers and the communities they serve. In November 2016, Anaheim served as one of four regional hosts for a briefing surrounding the President’s 21st Century Policing Taskforce report. The briefing incorporated law enforcement command staff and presented constructive means for law enforcement and communities to understand each other and work together.  

Jennifer Williamson (House Majority Leader – Oregon State House): Representative Jennifer Williamson has consistently stood as an advocate for gun violence prevention in Oregon and has fought to make it harder for violent criminals and domestic abusers to get their hands on firearms. As House Majority Leader, Representative Williams recently helped pass the Oregon Firearms Safety Act, requiring background checks for private gun sales and closing loopholes that allow dangerous individuals to acquire firearms.

States and localities are leading the way on a number of critical policies including, but not limited to, climate resiliency, veterans homelessness, gun violence prevention, criminal justice reform, and a host of other issues aimed at supporting the economic security of working families. As we move forward into 2017, we are confident that the state and local elected officials we have had the fortune of working with will continue leading the way in bringing about change.