Local Progress


Participants at the November 16-18 founding meeting of Local Progress: a national municipal policy network

The Public Leadership Institute was proud to help launch a new network of progressive elected municipal officials, Local Progress: a national municipal policy network. The membership of this organization believe in more broadly-shared prosperity, smart and strong public services, equal justice under law, sustainable and livable cities, and good government that serves the public interest effectively.

During November 16-18, elected officials from 32 different municipalities (including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Hartford, Milwaukee, Mobile, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle) met in Washington, D.C. and unanimously agreed to create this new organization.

The gathering kicked off with a rousing address from Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union, who said that SEIU is committed to building robust progressive infrastructure at the state and local level because it is crucial to improving the lives of working families. “We’re building a movement for a more fair and just society,” said Nick Licata, the Seattle City Council member who is chairing the network. “And we’re off to an amazing start.”

“After decades of rising inequality, rebuilding America requires smart and sustained communication and coordination between progressive advocacy groups and elected leaders,” said Nisha Agarwal, deputy director of the Center for Popular Democracy, which is a founding partner of Local Progress. “It’s crucial that we share innovative municipal policies and collaborate to realize our goals of equity, opportunity, and inclusion.” Cities are the driving force of America’s economic engine: the top 100 metropolitan areas account for about 75 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product; the top ten cities have an economic output that is about equal to that of 35 states.

“We have deep relationships with leaders in cities around the country,” said Gloria Totten, president of the Public Leadership Institute, also a founding partner of the new network. “And we’re bringing them together through Local Progress to share their best practices and unite behind a progressive agenda for our country.”

On Saturday morning, participants and outside experts discussed ways to rejuvenate the economy through the creation of good, middle class jobs. “We had lively presentations about how cities can foster smart economic growth,” said Wilson Goode, Jr., the Philadelphia City Councilman who led the conversation. “Everyone agreed that we have to build an economy where workers are paid a living wage with adequate benefits, sick leave, and the security they need to support their families.”

The legislators spoke optimistically about their vision for the coming decades. “A broad coalition of voters sent a powerful message on election day,” said Faith Winter, Mayor Pro Tem of Westminster, CO. “Voters want government that works in the public interest – not just the interest of multinational corporations – and that treats everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

The attendees said they planned to continue to push forward aggressively on coordinated legislative campaigns in the months and years ahead. Priorities include making government services more accessible for immigrants, creating middle-class green jobs and vibrant livable neighborhoods, empowering community residents to participate in democratic budgeting decisions, and supporting parents by strengthening schools and making work rules more flexible.

The Board of Local Progress is comprised of eleven city council members

  • David Alvarez, San Diego (CA);
  • John Avalos, San Francisco (CA);
  • Wilson Goode Jr., Philadelphia (PA);
  • Brad Lander, New York (NY);
  • Chuck Lesnick, Yonkers (NY);
  • Nick Licata, Seattle (WA);
  • Joe Moore, Chicago (IL);
  • Julia Ross, St. Louis Park (MN);
  • Meghan Sahli-Wells, Culver City (CA);
  • Lea Webb, Binghamton (NY);
  • Faith Winter, Westminster (CO);

and the leaders of three core partner organizations