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Council members pledge to restore partnership

Kaua‘i County Council members Mel Rapozo and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho recently participated in the National Association of Counties’ 73rd annual conference and exposition in Jackson County, Mo., where they pledged to work to help restore the partnership between the White House, Congress and counties.

The conference was July 8-15 in the Kansas City Convention Center. More than 3,000 elected and appointed county officials representing nearly every state and the District of Columbia adopted resolutions on national issues facing counties.

The measures included combating crystal meth, emergency preparedness, infrastructure funding, energy efficiency, waste recycling, affordable housing, county street and highway safety access and improvements.

The pair also participated in educational seminars and workshops to strengthen their public service skills.

Rapozo serves as the president of the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties, director of NACo’s Western Interstate Region and member of the Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee.

Iseri-Carvalho serves as a director of NACo and member of the Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering Committee.

“Our attendance at this conference is crucial to assure that our county’s interests are recognized by fellow colleagues throughout the country and that we all assist in pursuing these interests with a unified voice when we lobby for support at Congress.” Rapozo said in a news release.

“Hundreds of resolutions are considered throughout the year, but only a limited amount actually make it out of committee and are voted on only at this annual conference,” Iseri-Carvalho said. “Success of the resolutions proposed, especially in times of a declining economy, is dependent on extensive lobbying among colleagues prior to the vote. Visible presence is extremely vital for passage of our proposals.”

Oakland County, Mich., Commissioner and NACo President Eric Coleman said in the press release that for decades county and federal governments have worked together to answer the challenges facing the nation, but in recent years that partnership has diminished.

“The federal government has ignored the needs of counties and the levels of government have become more isolated from one another,” he said. “That’s why the theme of the conference was Restore the Partnership.”

County services and infrastructure are under great financial and operational duress across the country as a result of shrinking revenues, increased costs and increased populations, the release states. In addition, emergency disaster preparedness and response challenges are overwhelming many understaffed and budget-crunched counties.

“That’s why the White House and Congress need to restore the partnership with the nation’s 3,068 counties to develop pragmatic solutions to our shared problems and responsibilities,” said Coleman, who completed his one-year term as NACo president at the conclusion of the conference.

During general session meetings before the entire conference, delegates heard presentations from several nationally renowned speakers, including former U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker, who heads the U.S. Government Accountability Office; archeologist and writer Brian Fagan; award-winning director and writer Michael Corey Davis; advocate and author Ashley Rhodes-Courter; and Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian, author and commentator for NBC.

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