Rochester Hills Mayor Leading Mayors Nationwide
(Lara Mossa, Aug. 18, 2019)
ROCHESTER HILLS – Bryan Barnett entertained a standing-room only crowd on July 18 to be honored as the 77th President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan introduced him at the special event at Oakland University.
“It’s the pinnacle of my profession, and I’m honored to represent American cities across the country for the next year,” Barnett said.
Barnett has been part of the conference for 12 years. The mayors voted unanimously to elect him at a meeting in Hawaii July 1.
With between 500 and 600 active members, the U.S. Conference of Mayors includes the mayors of cities with more than 30,000 residents. There are more than 1,400 cities of that size in the country, he said. Founded in Detroit in 1932 and operated out of Washington D.C., the mayors represent the interests and needs of their constituents and tackle the challenges and opportunities happening in American cities.
The mayor of Rochester Hills since 2006, Barnet is the longest serving mayor ever in the city. He was appointed to finish a term in 2006 and elected in 2007. He is running for re-election this year and has no opponents, he said.
As president, he will guide the mayors of the country to focus on infrastructure, innovation and inclusion.
“We’ve found that just about every city – no matter the size – is working on those three areas,” he said.
In Rochester Hills, that includes water and sewer infrastructure and road work. The city also is trying to harness innovation to improve the residents quality of life and grappling with issues of inclusion, he added.
“One topic I’m really passionate about is autonomous vehicles and how they will transform the mobility of our residents.”
The prospect of autonomous vehicles will help improve the lives of elderly and disabled residents as well as the environment, he explained.
As part of his presidency, Barnett will establish the “100 Mayors Who Care” program, which is modeled after a Rochester Hills initiative that helps nonprofit organizations throughout the city.
Established about six years ago, the “100 Women Who Care” program involved $100 checks from each woman to a charity or cause. Three charities pitch ideas to the group and, if selected, received $10,000. Although it started with 100 women, the initiative now includes 280 women and grants of $28,000.
Barnett intends to replicate the program in the U.S. Conference of Mayors. With 100 mayors participating, they will provide $100 checks to nonprofit organizations throughout the country. Starting this year, grants will be distributed every quarter.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is involved in lobbying for cities and has provided Barnett with invaluable information.
“You have to get outside of your city and get with your colleagues to find out what is really going on,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to bring back the best practices of the leaders of the country to my hometown.”
Barnett, 44, is a strong mayor, which means he works full time. He has a bachelor’s degree in business marketing from Oakland University and has lived in Rochester Hills for more than 20 years. He worked in the private sector and served as a City Council member for six years before being elected. He is married with two children and is Chair of the Oakland University Alumni Association.
Under his leadership, Rochester Hills has been named “One of the Top Places to Live in America” as well as the “Safest City in Michigan.” He attributed his effectiveness to listening.
“I hope that it’s because I’m tuned into the needs of the community,” he said. “I’m listening and receptive to my community’s leads.”
For more on the City of Rochester Hills visit https://www.rochesterhills.org/.
Visit the US Council of Mayors website.