New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. left the Elm City for America’s heartland this week, making stops in Wichita, Kan., and Chicago.

DeStefano, who is currently serving as president of the National League of Cities, attended a farewell party for former Wichita Mayor Bob Knight on Monday night.

Today, he is scheduled to address the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation in Chicago along with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

As he travels across the country, DeStefano is also lobbying public officials for increased federal funding for local municipalities. On Tuesday, DeStefano called for a $40 billion economic stimulus package directed at cities and towns nationwide.

“America’s cities and towns provide the local economic engines that power our national economy,” DeStefano said in a press release. “The infrastructure, schools, and fiscal condition of local communities relate directly to the economic health of the country. Federal economic stimulus spending should plow funds back into local economies.”

In particular, the NLC is focusing its efforts on senators and congressmen who are in their home states during a Congressional recess that lasts until April 29. Michael Reinemer, a spokesman for the NLC, said DeStefano’s travels are intended to allow the NLC to lobby for its federal agenda while the mayor meets with local leaders.

“That is obviously the bottom line for these types of appearances,” Reinemer said. “We have a strong federal advocacy program, — and he’s obviously the chief spokesman for that.”

While DeStefano will return to New Haven on Thursday evening, he is scheduled to speak in Huntsville, Ala., next Monday at a meeting of the Alabama League of Municipalities.

–Jacob Leibenluft