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Iowa mayors discuss homelessness and gun violence
Iowa mayors discuss homelessness and gun violence

At least four mayors from Iowa are taking part in the US Conference of Mayors, which is taking place in Kansas City until Sunday. The bipartisan meeting of over 200 mayors is open to communities with 30,000 or more residents.

Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart says homelessness is a major issue facing many elected officials across the country. Mayor Hart says he launched a task force to address homelessness earlier this month.

“We’ll look at the data collection to find out who is homeless, what demographic it affects, and then work together on best practices,” Hart says, “not just at the local level, but also by networking and talking to other mayors and adopting some of those best practices.”

Gun violence is another major issue, though Hart says Waterloo’s numbers in that category are declining, which he attributes to efforts like gun buyback programs. Many communities also struggle with mental health issues, Hart says, and are wondering how to expand their services.

“The time has come for us to be able to say that mental health services are only located at the county level,” he says. “Cities need to get involved and share best practices.”

The mayors are working to put together a list of priorities for the next administration ahead of the presidential election in November. Despite the many elected officials at the conference, Hart says there is no political sensationalism. There are no Republican or Democratic potholes, Hart notes.

“People here work shoulder to shoulder, across party lines, to make sure we create the best communities possible,” Hart says. “That’s the great thing about being at the local level. It’s where people, state and federal governments come together, but our people expect us to go beyond politics and find real solutions.”

Other Iowa mayors at the 92nd Annual Conference include Danny Laudick of Cedar Falls, Connie Boesen of Des Moines and Brad Cavanagh of Dubuque.

By Liam