What keeps Mayors up at night?

"Most mayors are concerned about how they deliver basic city services to their constituents. When they take office, they have to reflect the needs of the community. Mayors who don't, don't last too long in the business." ' the late Boston Mayor Tom Menino

A just-released study with the Initiative on Cities at Boston University afforded insights into how over 70 mayors weigh their challenges, agendas, and relationships. In particular, this study illuminated how these mayors consider policy decisions in light on their political climates.

In order to show how various factors shape public policy, each of the mayors' responses were divided by their political affiliation, economy, and population.


The survey gleaned some fascinating results. When controlled for size or wealth of the cities, mayors' responses were similar. Slicing by political party, however, seems to reveal that, even at a local government level, politics and political affiliation have a great effect on decision-making.

For example, mayors overall noted that aging infrastructure and budgetary matters were at the top of the challenges they face.

Mayor Top Challenges

Breaking down by political affiliation, however, Republican mayors cited "economic development" challenges at the top, while Democratic mayors cited "financial management".

Although political affiliations show interesting distinctions, one note rings clear: regardless of politics, mayors across the country believe that infrastructure is one of their most important challenges.

As the late Boston Mayor Tom Menino says: "[Infrastructure is] a quality of life issue, how your neighborhood looks. It's having people come to a neighborhood and see a sidewalk that's fixed, a street that's in good condition, lighting that's proper and trees that are trimmed."

Solving fundamental infrastructure issues in your city sets a literal foundation for other solutions to build. A healthy, vibrant city will always begin with neighborhoods with smooth roads and bright lighting.

And that is a non-partisan issue.


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Click here to read the Initiative on Cities.

Click here to read another piece on the Initiative on Cities study.