JUNE 20, 2018 (COLUMBIA, S.C.): Three active members of the Midlands Mayors Forum have stepped forward to lead statewide and national civic leadership organizations, putting to further use the wisdom and experience they’ve gained in the Midlands. Since last summer, Cayce Mayor Elise Partin has served as president of the Municipal Association of South Carolina; this spring, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin has assumed the presidency of the U.S. Conference of Mayors; and this fall, Camden Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford assumes the role of chair for the National League of Cities Small Cities Council.
The Municipal Association of South Carolina serves the state’s towns and cities by offering the services, programs and tools that equip municipal officials to efficiently and effectively lead and govern their communities. Of her tenure as chair, Mayor Partin says, “From parks and community spaces to our ability to bring businesses and jobs to the state, cities provide so much value, whether you live within city limits or not. Helping our cities and towns articulate that value has been my mission this year—and it’s deepened my appreciation for what local leaders can do to help our state and nation prosper.”
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official non-partisan organization of cities with a population of 30,000 or larger. It serves as a hub for sharing ideas and best practices, and for building collaborative efforts to build and grow communities. “As the gridlock and partisanship in Washington continues to escalate, mayors remain on the front lines, working productively every day for the well-being of the people who live and work in their cities. There’s no better time for the nation’s mayors to come together to work on their shared priorities and build a brighter—more inclusive—future for all Americans,” says Mayor Benjamin. “This position will place Columbia and our citizens in the spotlight internationally, and we are excited to see the great things to come as we continue in our endeavor to create in Columbia the most talented, educated and entrepreneurial city in America.”
The National League of Cities is a resource and advocate for cities and towns of all sizes, reports Mayor Drakeford. Small cities, like Camden, comprise the vast majority of American municipalities and are home to millions of Americans. The Small Cities Council advocates for these communities at the national level and highlights innovative and collaborative practices emerging in small cities. Mayor Drakeford provides this example, “At a Small Cities Conference in Burlington, Texas, I heard about how high school graduates with a 2.5 GPA were given tuition-free scholarships to the city’s community college, and I brought that concept home. Now all four counties in the Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Government are offering tuition-free scholarships to our local technical college.” She continues, “[As Chair of the Council] I am committed to encouraging the growth of businesses, organizations, and citizens as they make our small communities a viable choice for people to live and be successful.”
As part of their leadership roles, both Mayors Benjamin and Drakeford will welcome their organizations to the Midlands for their annual meetings next year. The U.S. Conference of Mayors Fall Leadership Meeting will convene in Columbia in September; the National League of Cities Small Cities Council will gather in Camden in November 2019.
About the Midlands Mayors Forum
The Midlands Mayors Forum is a collaborative of all mayors in Richland and Lexington Counties, as well as mayors from Sumter and Camden, S.C. Started six years ago by the Mayor of the City of Columbia, the Forum has focused on relationship building and communication. Understanding that we are one region, the Mayors have now taken the group to a more formal level by working with EngenuitySC to focus on collaborative actions that enhance each of our cities and lead to a stronger, more competitive and prosperous Midlands.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., EngenuitySC is a nonprofit focused on long-term competitiveness and prosperity in the Midlands. EngenuitySC specializes in managing collaborations between business, government, education and community leaders. For more information, visit www.engenuitysc.com.