Election 2017: The cities facing new leadership and legislation
- The Nov. 7 election saw a Democratic sweep in mayoral races across the nation as many major cities elected mayors. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan all won re-election. Charlotte, NC elected Democrat Vi Lyles, the city's first female African-American mayor, and Seattle elected Jenny Durkan, the city's first out lesbian mayor.
- Democrats also saw two big gubernatorial victories. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam was elected governor in Virginia, while Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy was elected governor in New Jersey.
- Smart Cities Dive has also been watching four ballot measures that could have long-term implications for smart city development. In preliminary results, Maine Question 3, New Jersey Question 1, New Jersey Question 2 and New York Proposal 3 all passed.
Elections often bring fresh energy and drive to build cities that are resilient and livable. In some cities where mayors were re-elected, smart city development is already top of mind, and familiar guidance from incumbent mayors allow developments to continue to run smoothly. In a city like Seattle, which has a reputation of being progressive and innovative, a mayor like Jenny Durkan will likely bring a new level of inclusivity to the area. "Both women and lesbians are severely underrepresented in all levels of government, especially executive positions," said Victory Fund CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills in a statement, touting the importance of leadership diversity.
The preliminary results of the previously-highlighted ballot measures may also have a promising influence on smart city development. Maine Question 3, which would issue $105 million in bonds for transportation infrastructure projects, could help motivate cities across Maine and the Northeast to prioritize efficient transit innovation. New Jersey Question 1, which would provide $125 million in bonds to public libraries, could help expand educational resources to better serve citizens in the state. New Jersey Question 2, which would essentially lock away money won in environmental lawsuits, would likely influence cities to prioritize upkeep of natural resources. And New York Proposal 3, which would create a 250-acre land bank from which municipalities could request pieces to perform improvements, would likely encourage cities to find a happy medium between preservation and progress.
In order to be prepared for the 2018 midterm elections, cities must now outline their continued developmental and infrastructure goals to become smarter cities, and highlight those goals through eventual campaigning and ballot measures. A city can only become smart with buy-in from the public, and that collaboration with city residents must begin as soon as possible for progress to be made.
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