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
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.”