Monday, July 15, 2013

CML Annual Conference and Convention

Location: Vail, CO, USA
Mayor Gierlach at the CML Conference in Vail
Outside of Nederland I represent our little hamelet in the mountains in a variety of capacities. One is the Colorado Municipal League (CML), a highly respected statewide association of 267 cities and towns. The League was formed by a group of municipal leaders in 1923 and is seen as one of the "go to" organizations when it comes to knowing what is happening in the realm of local government and public policy. It is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates.

The CML Annual Conference is four days long, and jam packed with 75-minute sessions of presentations where elected officials can obtain information, ask questions, and collaborate with other cities and towns on a wide variety of issues facing municipalities.

This year, I attended a great session on Reinventing Government in the 21st Century. I saw a fascinating presentation from Longmont Downtown Development Director, Kimberlee McKee about the work they've done with their Creative District. I participated in a conversation about how to save money by implementing energy efficiency programs with Scott Morrissey from the Colorado Energy Office, and commissioning buildings with Stacey Simms from McKinstry. I learned about how small towns rebuild after disasters from a panel which included Ridgway Town Manager, Jen Coates. (They also have a vibrant Creative District.)

I learned about planning and maintaining urban forests, and reviewed examples of how municipalities are engaging the LiveWell Colorado program to increase health and wellness in their communities. The conference provided many informative sessions including an update on the implementation of Amendment 64. I learned about collaborating with non-profit organizations, and the State Historical Fund.

Everything mentioned so far, is what I like to call the conference component of the CML Conference, but there is another aspect to the conference which I call the convention component of the conference.

The League is known as "The Voice of Colorado’s Cities and Towns."

Longmont City Council member, Katie Witt
congratulates colleague, Sarah Levison
on re-election to the CML Executive Board

(photo by Sandi Seader, Longmont Asst City Manager)

CML performs three major functions: advocacy, information, and training. So, besides getting information and training, each year at the conference, we confirm the league's Policy Statement – the basis for its advocacy efforts which I mentioned last spring here.

The League also elects the the nineteen-member Executive Board of CML. (Board membership consists of an equal number of municipal officials from small, medium, and large population cities and towns, plus the Immediate Past President.)

The election process for the Executive Board is interesting because there is one vote cast for each member city or town. All of the voters are pretty much people who have been through an election, and savvy electors. I think the process feels a bit like the Democratic or Republican National Convention, where delegates elect their respective representatives. Candidates wear hats, give campaign speeches, and pass out stickers, buttons or mints. The process naturally evolves to represent a cross-section from the plains, western slope, front range and mountain areas of the state.

Personally, I had an unfortunate family matter that I was dealing with before the CML Conference, so I could not prepare, and I'm sure I bombed my campaign speech, but I was reelected to the Executive Board regardless. Go figure. Here is the Mountain Ear article and the Denver Post Your Hub Article explaining the results.

"In its 91st year, the CML Conference has matured into the perfect balance of speakers, exhibitors, and time to collaborate with other municipal leaders."

Governor John Hickenlooper speaking at the
Colorado Municipal League Annual Conference

This year featured keynote speaker, Steve Ford, son of President Gerald Ford who gave an inspirational look into the White House and principled leadership. I also got a front row seat to hear Governor John Hickenlooper give us an update on the state's progress in the economic recovery.

The CML Staff really put on a top quality conference this year.

Throughout the year, the CML staff is always very accessible and well informed. There are fourteen full and part-time staff members, led by the charismatic Executive Director, Sam Mamet. This fall, Sam will be entering his 35th year on the League staff, with the last nine as Executive Director. I have to pause and reflect on all the things that have happened in Colorado politics since 1978.

Over the years, Sam must have helped many municipalities in Colorado through a very wide range of issues, and I always make time to hear what he has to say. He is now authoring a blog called Municipalities Matter, which I find thoughtful and enlightening. Check it out here.

[Here is a Video Valediction] I learned a lot at the CML Annual Conference, and it will take all year to put those ideas into practice. This is Canadian/American songwriter, Alanis Morissette, performing You Learn (1995). [What is a Video Valediction?]
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