Lessons Learned From D.C.’s NACo Conference
Elefante’s Connections…City Councilman Brandon Elefante
In February, I attended the annual National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
It was my first trip to the nation’s capital.
The City and County of Honolulu is a member of NACo, and is one of 3,069 counties across the nation that are part of the organization.
At the conference, the emphasis was on issues relating to transportation, infrastructure and economic-revitalization initiatives.
Did you know that, across the country, 45 percent of our roads and bridges are owned and maintained by counties?
Nationally, $106.3 billion is invested annually in building infrastructure and operating public works.
Counties across the nation also invest $9.3 billion annually to build and maintain our parks and recreational facilities.
Here at the City and County of Honolulu, our total operating budget for the coming fiscal year is $2.28 billion, and our capital budget is $494 million.
While in Washington, D.C., I also had the opportunity to meet with our Hawaii congressional delegation to discuss the effect of the potential U.S. military downsizing and its impact on our Hawaii economy.
One of the highlights of the conference was listening to Vice President Joe Biden speak to attendees.
Biden is a former county councilman from New Castle, Del. He shared his experiences early in his political career, and discussed current issues facing our nation.
Much of Biden’s speech focused on transportation and infrastructure, growing our middle class and improving education (especially at community colleges).
In addition, we received other federal updates that have direct and indirect impacts on counties.
To learn more about NACo, please visit naco.org/pages/default.aspx.
Lastly, I had the opportunity to meet with Deputy Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Nani Coloretti.
Originally from Hawaii, Ms. Coloretti is a graduate of Iolani School and previously was assistant secretary for management, Department of the Treasury.
We discussed issues concerning housing, veteran homelessness and living on the Mainland.
In closing, I gained a lot of information from the conference.
It was interesting to hear that many other counties face similar challenges to our county.
I look forward to working with other county governments to find common solutions to our shared challenges.
Call City Councilman Brendan Elefante, D-District 8 (lower Aiea, Pearlridge, Waimalu, Newtown, Pearl City, Seaview, Crestview, Waipio Gentry and Waipahu) at 768-5008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.