City | 8:37 pm | March 14, 2012 | By Nick Defiesta

Mr. DeStefano goes to Washington

WhiteHouseSouthFacade
Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Mayor John DeStefano Jr. was one of 14 city officials from across the nation to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House for a National League of Cities conference Monday afternoon.

In the meeting, DeStefano spoke to Obama about issues he thought were important on a local level, including the “changing nature of work” in New Haven, the city’s nationally recognized education reform efforts and his approach to immigration issues. Obama, DeStefano said, spoke to the group for around 40 minutes, primarily about “growing the economy, supporting families and energy policy.”

“I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity to sit down with the President,” DeStefano said in a statement following the meeting. “We are all fortunate to have a President who understands and supports the needs and concerns of cities like New Haven.”

Read DeStefano’s full account of the meeting below:

“I had the opportunity today to meet with President Obama in the

Roosevelt Room of the White House, along with 13 other elected officials

in Washington D.C. this week for a National League of Cities conference.

We met first with Gene Sperling, the Director of the National Economic

Council, a senior domestic policy advisor to the President. At around

2:50 p.m., we were joined by Valerie Jarrett and the President. The

President spoke with us for around 40 minutes, and focused largely on

growing the economy, supporting families, and energy policy.

The President also engaged each Mayor on issues of importance in their

cities. When it was my turn, I spoke about the changing nature of work

here in New Haven. Years ago, our largest employer was the Winchester

factory. Today, it’s Yale University and Yale-New Haven

Hospital—jobs that require higher skill levels. I asked the

President to support training programs and interventions that help

individuals grow skills that match the jobs available today. I told him

I supported his focus on community colleges as an important workforce

development tool. I also shared New Haven’s experience with our

immigrant communities—that robust immigration is important for growing

the economy. Here in New Haven, our immigrant communities are

disproportionately entrepreneurial, growing numerous healthy businesses

and jobs despite a challenging economy.

I also spoke to the President about our School Change initiative, and

asked that competitive federal grants like the Race to the Top and

Investing in Innovation funds go directly to school districts carrying

out reforms, rather than to states or non-profits that are more removed

from classrooms.

I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity to sit down with the

President. We are all fortunate to have a President who understands and

supports the needs and concerns of cities like New Haven.”

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