Mayor Sly James is center stage at White House

Posted at 1:13 PM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 17:26:25-05

Mayors across the U.S. say they worry about their cities' aging infrastructure and they'd like more state and federal support, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The Menino Survey of Mayors release coincides with the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which runs through Friday in Washington, D.C. 

"Infrastructure has been neglected in this country, and that has to change." -- Mayor Sly James at White House press briefing.

It also comes as Flint, Mich. grapples with an infrastructure crisis that cause lead to contaminate its drinking water supply. 

Asked about infrastructure at a White House press briefing on Thursday, Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James was emphatic:

"We don't have water problems going on in Flint," James said. "There should not be children, people in this country drinking leaded water."

The Kansas City, Mo. mayor was joined at the press briefing by the mayors of Boston and Fresno, Calif. More than 280 mayors from around the country are attending the annual meeting.

Among the findings of the survey:

  • Mayors say aging and underfunded infrastructure is their most pressing challenge. Mass transit, roads and water top the list of priorities.
  • Mayors support proposed police reforms including body cameras, independent investigations for police shootings and publicizing arrest and crime statistics by demographics. Democratic and Republican mayors support many of the reforms equally.
  • Mayors believe they receive too little financial support from state and federal government and are overly burdened by restrictions from their state government.
  • Cities are attempting to assist low-income residents with housing, job training and other programs, but most mayors believe they have little control over economic inequality and they do not place it high on their list of priorities.

Graham Wilson, director of the Initiative on Cities, said mayors are innovators and added, "We hope that the Menino Survey shines a light on their leadership and helps mayors communicate the needs, challenges, and achievements of cities today." The survey was based on telephone and in-person interviews with mayors of U.S. cities of all sizes.

RELATED: Read the Menino Survey of Mayors