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Bloomberg Philanthropies Publishes Results of Largest Survey of American Mayors

In-Depth Report Reveals Top Issues and Opportunities Facing City Leaders 

NEW YORK – Bloomberg Philanthropies today released the results of its 2018 American Mayors Survey, the largest and most comprehensive survey of mayors to date. The survey reveals that America’s mayors increasingly feel on the hook for addressing major policy and funding issues – from infrastructure to immigration – that were once under the purview of federal or state governments. At the same time, more mayors say that their relationship with the new administration has gotten worse over the past year. The research also provides a deep examination of how local leaders are responding to climate change and the opioid epidemic as well as the degree to which mayors rely on experimentation, partnership, and citizen engagement as central strategies to improve their community.

The 2018 American Mayors Survey builds on existing research and reveals the issues and challenges that are top-of-mind for local leaders in the U.S. It is the first to include small cities (30,000-plus residents) alongside larger metropolises. Mayors of 156 cities and from all regions of the country participated.

The survey is part of Michael R. Bloomberg’s American Cities Initiative, a program designed to empower city leaders to generate new ideas and advance policy that moves the nation forward. The findings will help promote bold leadership in America’s cities, advance critical policies and legislation, and empower citizens to solve urban problems.

“As dysfunction in Washington has grown worse, the responsibilities of local leaders have grown larger – and so has their importance on the national stage,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “That’s why we undertook this first-of-its-kind survey of mayors, and it provides a clearer picture of how they see their biggest challenges.”

Key Findings Include:

  • More mayors said that their relationship with the federal government has gotten worse over the past year Nearly three in ten mayors in the Midwest and Northeast reported worsening relationships with this administration, as did two-thirds of large cities and nearly four in ten medium sized cities.
  • Cities are thriving but need to address housing and infrastructure concerns – More than 70% of cities reported rapid growth and success attracting new businesses and citizens indicating that cities continue to be areas of growth for the nation. However, affordable housing and infrastructure are among the top concerns for mayors.
  • Cities are leading on climate change but can do more – Mayors are already taking action on climate change across all regions and political spectrums, however, more opportunity exists to explore other forms of climate mitigation. Nearly 40% or respondents said that they have significant experience encouraging sustainable modes of transportation like walking, cycling and buses but only 24% have significant experience procuring renewable energy and only 15% promoting low-carbon new buildings.
  • Few cities have a formal strategy to stem the opioid crisis While the opioid crisis has hit some regions harder and more deeply than others, only 20% of all mayors surveyed have a written plan for addressing the epidemic. Of the programs that exist, 62% support wide distribution of Narcan by law enforcement.
  • Even though mayors believe that disruptive tech is beneficial for the community, it is not a job creator – More than half of mayors (51%) think disruptive tech and the sharing economy, such as Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft, are beneficial to the community. However, few (7%) think the sharing economy is a net job creator. Skepticism is highest in the Midwest and Northeast, where 37% and 25%, respectively, said the sharing economy was over-rated.
  • Mayors are pragmatic coalition builders – Constructive relationships with city and state legislators are common with more than two-thirds of respondents reporting positive relationships despite the fraught political climate.
  • City Halls are rethinking staff roles and ways to harness the power of citizens to develop new solutions About half of those surveyed have appointed a chief data officer and one-third have installed chief innovation officers. Mayors are also sharing ideas with each other and adopting new ways to engage residents in their work, including soliciting resident feedback and harnessing the power of citizen scientists through data collection.

These results underscore that cities are important players in the American response to 21st Century challenges and highlight areas where cities need more support. A link to the full report can be found here:

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $702 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on FacebookInstagramSnapchat, and Twitter.

Media Contacts:
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