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How Mayors Work


U.S. Conference of Mayors

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, or USCM, is the official nonpartisan organization of mayors, which means it doesn't have a political affiliation and works to stay away from divisive politics. The organization was set up after a group of mayors met with President Hoover during the Great Depression and was able to garner $300 million dollars in federal aid to assist American cities [Source: USCM]. The aid that Congress provided was the first federal relief given to the nation's cities.

Today, the primary roles of the USCM are to bridge the gap between national and local politics, ensure that federal policies meet urban needs, and to help develop urban and suburban policy that meets the needs of city citizens. The organization also provides leadership and management resources to mayors.

A total of about 1,200 cities are represented by the USM, and the Conference holds two major meetings each year [Source: USCM]. One meeting is held in Washington, D.C., each winter, and another held in June in a different city each year. Members of the organization have to be a mayor of a city with a population larger than 30,000 people. Each member gets to vote on national urban policy and can serve on the Conference committees and task forces. Committees are long-term groups that set up policy on specific topics, while task forces are set up to address problems or issues in a specific local government and then are disbanded. These task forces and committees may meet to help cities deal with issues such as homelessness, AIDS, violence or homeland security.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors brings its national urban policies to the President of the United States and Congress, and act collectively as representatives of their cities to the national government. In this way, even mayors of small towns can have an impact on the nation as a whole.


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