|Left to right, Mayor Gimenez, Mayor Coleman, Mayor Barkat of Jerusalem, Mayor Parker, Mayor Mallory, and me.|
The trip to Israel was invaluable for many reasons, including the opportunity to rub shoulders with a few other mayors from around the country and their staff. Our cities are dealing with many of the same issues–council meetings, budget cuts, transportation, snow plowing, economic development, re-branding–and there was much to learn from their experiences.
Mayor Annise Parker
Mayor Parker of Houston heads the largest city represented on the trip, and the fourth largest city in the country. She deals with a $4.25 billion total city budget, which includes a $1.9 billion general fund budget. She’s a good fit for the job, having worked for many years as the city controller. The mayor faces re-election every two years and won the most recent election earlier this month. She usually has a team of security guards assigned to protect her, but was able to travel to Israel without them.
Mayor Mark Mallory
Mayor Mallory of Cinncinnati was the life of the party, constantly entertaining us with his dry humor and dynamic personality. In the photo above, he’s listening to a pitch by a market vendor in Jerusalem. He has been working hard on economic development in his city, and gave us tips on the re-branding process. He comes from a family of public servants. His father was in the state legislature, he has been in the state legislature, he has a brother who is an elected official, and two others who are judges. He recently appeared in an episode of Undercover Boss.
Mayor Chris Coleman
Mayor Coleman of St. Paul wears cowboy boots and is part of a bagpipe band that once opened for Rod Stewart. He’s a former defense attorney and asked some of the best questions throughout the trip. He has been instrumental in championing the largest transit project ever undertaken in the state of Minnesota which has been just one part of his efforts to bring his downtown to life with music, art, and restaurants.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez
Mayor Gimenez of Miami-Dade County, just elected in June, is a former fire chief. He was almost called on to do CPR on the flight back to the United States. One thing we have in common is we both had to make major budget cuts soon after being elected to office, but he had to cut more than $400 million from his budget and is working on reducing 42 departments to 25. Another thing we have in common is we are both married to our high school sweethearts. His wife Lourdes is an administrator with the local school district and accompanied him on the trip. In the photo above, he’s standing with Provo City’s public information officer Helen Anderson.