Mayors from around the nation stood behind Jon Mitchell on Friday as he concluded the two-day summit on smart cities and energy technologies held here.
As the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Energy Policy Committee, Mitchell lauded New Bedford’s clean energy achievements as well as those accomplishments by the mayors behind him and their respective cities.
Looking to the future through conversations at summit, Mitchell said, “We’ve got to continue to lead, but as we do we need to partner with the federal government. We do need to think about the future. Not just for us, but for our kids and our grandchildren.”
This year’s conference came in a year where President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord and has pushed for the production of coal.
Shane Bemis, Republican mayor of Gresham, Oregon, said his city continues to push forward to cleaner energy options.
Bemis said he believes in the science behind climate change, but doesn’t use it in pitching clean energy.
“Instead of on the moral ground, it’s easier to talk about the the return on investment ground,” Bemis said.
Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of U.S. Conference of Mayors, followed those comments with a strong message on the importance of mayors guiding their cities toward a prosperous future regardless of the president’s opinions.
“Presidents, dictators, queens and kings, and tribal leaders get together and fight and talk,” Cochran said. “But the mayors of the world walk. We are doing things to save our planet.”
The recovery efforts in Houston, Texas, the Gulf Coast and in Florida sparked the urgency to which solutions must be obtained.
Mitchell brought up the deaths of eight people at a Florida nursing home resulting from a lack of power to supply the air conditioner.
The mayors at the conference envision a future where natural disasters don’t force massive power outages.
“They’ve all reflected the need to keep the lights on,” Mayor Richard Thomas of Mount Vernon, New York, said. “What can we do now to make sure that they stay on even during or after a storm?”
The conversations won’t end Friday when the attendees return home. Next week some of the nation’s mayors will convene in New York City to meet with Paris’ mayor during climate week.
“These aren’t academic exercises,” Mitchell said. “We are where the rubber hits the road. We want people to have opportunity. We know these are areas where we can create jobs and save taxpayer dollars.”
— Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.