More than one hundred municipal officials and staff from across the Commonwealth gathered last week for the 2022 Statewide Municipal Partnerships Conference, hosted by the Mass. Association of Regional Planning Agencies (MARPA) and Division of Local Services at the College of the Holy Cross. Special guests at the conference, the first held since 2019, included Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.
In his remarks, Governor Baker spoke to his Administration’s efforts to establish strong municipal partnerships, which was a priority from his first days in office. Baker signed Executive Order 554: Creating the Community Compact Cabinet in January 2015 to champion municipal interests and develop best practices for the state and municipalities.
“This whole notion of how do we create relationships between cities and towns that feels positive and productive instead of frustrating and annoying was incredibly important to the lieutenant governor and me… This stuff never works unless everybody plays. And I just want to say, that the cities and towns played. You gave us advice, you gave us guidance, you gave us gratitude, and you gave us ‘what are you doing?’ when we needed it”.
Lt. Governor Polito also spoke to the work of the Community Compact Cabinet and the Administration’s approach to relationships with local officials in every community in the Commonwealth.
“It [the Community Compact Cabinet] can serve as a playbook for future administrations, other states, counties, and municipalities across the country,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “While it was important for the governor and I to be in your communities and understand what you’re working on and what your challenges are, what your hopes, dreams, and opportunities are, we were not the only two thinking about that. We knew that we couldn’t be the only two thinking about that. We really needed to engage our whole cabinet of Secretaries in embracing community development, and adopting the notion that when we build strong communities, we build a stronger Commonwealth.”
MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta , Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, and Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Bethany Card were then welcomed by attendees. During a panel discussion, moderated by MAPC Deputy Executive Director of Public Affairs & Advocacy Lizzi Weyant, the Secretaries provided highlights of some of the generational infrastructure funding opportunities currently available.
Afternoon workshops, led by senior administration officials and local leaders from across the Commonwealth, provided the chance to dive deeper into these funding opportunities, think through the challenges facing communities, and hear from other communities looking to work through those same challenges.
Workshop Presentations and Presenters:
Lt. Governor Polito expressed her sentiment to the conference's attendees and municipal workers across the state prior to departing. “I just want to validate the choice in your career. What you do is so critically important, not only in your town hall, but for the future success of this Commonwealth. As your Lt. Gov. and lifelong citizen of Massachusetts, now and forever, I appreciate that so very much.”
Governor Baker’s former chief of staff and Harvard Taubman Center Senior Fellow Steve Kadish closed out the conference by sharing strategies and insight from his co-authored book "Results: Getting Beyond Politics to Get Important Work Done" for taking a generational perspective when working with community members and stakeholders.