City leaders attend mayoral conference in D.C.
ELKHART — Elkhart city officials wrapped up their annual pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., today after attending a series of meetings in hopes of tapping into available funds and learning more about programs that could benefit the city.
Mayor Dick Moore and three other city leaders spent two days meeting with lawmakers and attending meetings that are part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Moore and his staff attended several major events, then fanned out to various smaller meetings.
“We cover a lot of ground with a number of us,” Moore said Friday morning shortly before heading into a meeting that featured Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services,
Meetings with federal officials help keep the city abreast of changes in policies and future flow of federal dollars to the local level, Moore said.
City officials also made an effort to learn more about programs involving Housing and Urban Development and the Community Development Block Grant Program, which Elkhart has participated in heavily in recent years.
In addition to Moore, city officials attending the conference included city engineer Mike Machlan, airport manager Andy Jones, and Arvis Dawson, the mayor’s assistant.
Among the meetings Moore attended Thursday was a speech by Vice President Joe Biden, who trumpeted the administration’s efforts to curb gun violence.
Moore was quoted in the Chicago Tribune Friday applauding the vice president’s speech, saying the impact of addressing the mayors conference would help spread the word through “emissaries.”
Moore said Friday he supports the broad range of proposals touted by President Barack Obama to curb gun violence, but said he probably won’t actively lobby on the issue when he returns home.
Instead, Moore said, they’ll let the issue unfold on the federal level before considering local ideas that address gun violence.
“We need to be sure we don’t get a whole bunch of laws that are in conflict with each other,” Moore said.
Moore said he doesn’t consider Obama’s efforts to be an attack on the Second Amendment.
He said he supports improving mental health aspects related to gun ownership, the sharing of data between states involving convicted felons and limiting high-capacity magazines.
“We need to spend more money on determining who is capable of handling a weapon and who is not capable of handling a weapon,” Moore said.
The gun control issue, announced Wednesday, seemed to permeate much of the discussion during the mayors conference, Moore said, because gun violence extends beyond establishing new gun laws.
During the same meeting with Sebelius, another speaker addressed children’s health and how that relates to gun violence, Moore said.
Dawson said city officials met with representatives of Rep. Jackie Walorski and Sen. Joe Donnelly as well as David Agnew, the president’s director of Intergovernmental Affairs and representative of Biden’s office.
The Elkhart delegation was one of several from Indiana. Representatives of Indianapolis, South Bend and Gary attended the conference, according to Dawson.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors has hosted annual meetings for 81 years and is a nonpartisan organization representing cities with populations of 30,000 or more, according to the group’s website.