Nutter to take top post at U.S. Conference of Mayors

Posted: June 14, 2012

Mayor Nutter will become the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Saturday, giving him the high-profile job of spokesman for America's cities during an election year.

Nutter will be inaugurated at the group's annual meeting in Orlando.

"He's America's mayor for a year. It's the highest honor any mayor can have," said Thomas Cochran, executive director of the conference.

Even as he faces a budget battle and other problems in Philadelphia, Cochran said, Nutter has gained a reputation outside the city as someone who tackles problems directly.

"He has moved up rapidly because of the respect he has from his peers," Cochran said.

Nutter's appointment undoubtedly will mean more appearances on CNN, MSNBC, and other networks as journalists seek opinions about what an Obama or Romney presidency will mean for urban America. But the job also involves the less glamorous but important work of creating a metropolitan agenda that the mayors can pitch at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

That means lots of policy discussions on crime, infrastructure, and even garbage collection.

"I plan to continue to maintain the Conference of Mayors' focus primarily on the issues of jobs, infrastructure revitalization, and putting Philadelphians and Americans back to work, and on trying to get national policies through House and Senate that help to support that," Nutter said in an interview Wednesday.

Legislative priorities will include reauthorizing a transportation spending bill and making sure that interest rates on college loans do not rise dramatically, he said.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said Nutter's new post would help Philadelphia.

"It is a very important position and it will give the mayor leverage with the White House, leverage with the Congress," Rendell said. "It's a very positive chip in terms of being able to turn it into some beneficial developments for the city of Philadelphia."

The conference is nonpartisan and represents 1,309 cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Its current president is Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa.

Contact Miriam Hill at 215-854-5520 or hillmb@phillynews.com or on Twitter @miriamhill. Read the City Hall politics blog at www.heardinthehall.com.

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