What does it mean for Columbia that its mayor was chosen to lead national group?

June 26, 2017

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin is next in line to become the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and to bring a leadership meeting here next year.

The advocacy group for municipalities on Monday elected Benjamin its vice president Monday during its annual meeting in Miami Beach, his office announced.

“This is a wonderful and unique opportunity for our city ... to stand on the world stage, share best practices and lead in developing ... solutions that improve people’s lives,” Benjamin said in a statement after the vote.

His selection means Benjamin will become president in 2018 the organization for chief local officials from cities of at least 30,000 people. During his term next year, Benjamin will host the Fall Leadership Conference in the capital city, his office said.

The mayoral organization earlier this year granted Columbia $120,000 to help fight childhood obesity and to promote wellness programs, according to the statement.

The conference of mayors wrapped up with leaders from more than 250 cities voting on symbolic resolutions pushing back against President Donald Trump on climate change and immigration.

The clean-energy resolution is one of the many measures that will be sent to Congress and the White House hoping to influence legislation. It was proposed by Benjamin along with Democratic mayors in other Republican-dominated states: Texas, Utah and Iowa.

Traditional energy sources still dominate, with many cities saying they need their states to pass legislation to smooth the transition.

David Sandalow, a former undersecretary of energy in President Barack Obama’s administration who is now at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, called it an “ambitious goal.” “(It’s) certainly possible in some cities, much more challenging in others,” he said.

Billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also addressed the mayors on Monday, announcing a $200 million initiative for cities to take on projects that address issues from climate change to gun violence and immigration.