Since the day Donald Trump was elected president, and the sheer amount of ground-up rebuilding the Democratic party needed to do became clear, I started thinking about Mayors. Twenty-six of the 30 largest cities in the country are currently run by Democrats, and there are some big, established names and some future rising stars in the bunch. Bill de Blasio of New York, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Sylvester Turner of Houston, Ivy Taylor of San Francisco, Kasim Reed of Atlanta, and Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans will all be hugely important political players in the next four years, as a local-level bulwark against Donald Trump.
In fact, the first major electoral battle post-Trump, and the first test of whether the reolve of the Women’s Marchers and their allies will translate into electoral success, will not be the 2018 midterms, but this year’s slate of elections, especially at this mayoral level.
In Atlanta, Mayor Reed is term limited and not running for reelection. Republican incumbents like Thomas Regalado of Miami (term-limited) and Carey Davis of San Bernardino (up for election) could be replaced by Democratic successors. Bill de Blasio will likely face not only Republican opposition this fall, but a primary challenge from his own party. Boston, Buffalo, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Antonio, Seattle, and St. Louis will all hold elections this year. If you live in one of those states, you do not have to wait until 2018 to help a campaign. If you like your local mayor, support him or her. If you don’t, find out when your primaries are and help someone you’d like better. Because while Republicans control most of the federal and state governments, local control, at least in our largest, most economically active areas, are still Democratic. And we’re going to need them.
In the Senate, Pat Toomey – who Democrats targeted in last year’s Pennsylvania Senate race but could not oust – introduced S.87, officially titled “A bill to ensure that State and local law enforcement may cooperate with Federal officials to protect our community from violent criminals and suspected terrorists who are illegally present in the United States.” Essentially what this means is sanctuary cities (or counties) that protect illegal immigrants living in those communities from Federal law will lose federal funding for law enforcement, which seems at first blush to be counterproductive. After all, Republicans spent the last year (incorrectly) painting America’s cities as crime-ridden cesspools. Restoring “law and order” with reduced funding for law enforcement doesn’t make much sense.
Sanctuary cities have long been a Republican target, and an easy one to pull the public heartstrings on. It came to a head last year, with the killing of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco by a Mexican who was in the United States illegally. Steinle’s mother even appeared at the Republican National Convention last year. Toomey’s bill has 23 co-sponsors, all Republicans.
The legislation is the clearest sign yet that federal Republicans – long-time proponents of “local control” are seeking to impose laws on communities that don’t support them. The vast majority of sanctuary locales are in urban, liberal America. Which brings us back to the importance of mayors as a bulwark against Trumpism.
In New York, Mayor de Blasio is already factoring the potential passage of this legislation into his budget, including a plan to boost financial reserves as a “rainy day fund” for the loss of federal dollars associated with New York’s role as a sanctuary city. While de Blasio said “There are no Trump-specific adjustments in this budget,” overall cash reserves are at an all time high, with city agencies being asked to find additional savings.
Upstate, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Minor reaffirmed her stance:
“I promise you that as long as I am mayor, the resources of this city, including the Syracuse Police Department, will not be used to help enforce federal anti-immigrant policies,” Miner said, earning a standing ovation. “As long as I am mayor, Syracuse will be a sanctuary city for vulnerable families who had the misfortune of being born in a war-torn corner of our world.”
So, while you’re calling your Senators and Congressmen, ask them about their support for this bill and President Trump’s immigration crackdown in general. Then, take moment to call your town’s Mayor to ask them about their thoughts on sanctuary cities. This is a clear example of an issue where every level of government needs to know where we stand.
Update – 1/25/17 3:07
It appears President Trump isn’t waiting for the legislation. He signed an executive order today that stated, in part:
I’m not sure how legal this is, strictly speaking. It seems to me that anything regarding appropriations has to be passed by Congress, but I’ll dig into whether this is legit or not. In the meantime, if you have any legal expertise, let me know.