Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki is eager and anxious to be attending a three-day conference at Harvard University this week along with 24 other newly elected mayors.
The Transition and Leadership for Newly Elected Mayors starts today and runs through Friday at Harvard's Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
"It is by invitation only for mayors of the largest cities, with a population of 150,000 or more," said Sawicki. "For me, it's all about the learning. They have seminars on public safety, government finance and how to manage a disaster. It would be a mistake to turn down an all-expenses-paid opportunity like this."
Sawicki added that the best part of the conference, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, it that "no tax dollars are being spent. It is completely paid for by Harvard, from air fare to hotel and meals, everything."
Mayors of large cities such as San Francisco and Miami will share their experiences with the attendees along with a star-studded lineup of speakers from professors to policy experts to political practitioners. Institute director Trey Grayson touts the seminar as an opportunity for new city leaders to engage with and learn how to transfer from campaigning to functioning in office. Topics run the full gamut from jobs to finance, education and technology.
"The caliber of the people speaking is just awesome," said Sawicki. "The days are completely full of seminars from morning, noon and night."
Former Mayor Jim Burch, recently elected to the District 1 seat on City Council, attended a similar conference after he was elected. Former Mayor John Sullivan chose not to attend the conference when he began his term in office.
"I'm going to stay over in Boston on Friday night and pay for it myself," said Sawicki. "I didn't want to hurry back, but I will be there for the Festival of Lights ceremony downtown."
Other new mayors scheduled to participate include Kathy Sheehan of Albany, N.Y.; Esther Manheimer of Asheville, N.C.; Marty Walsh of Boston; John Ducey of Brick Township, N.J.; Bill Carpenter of Brockton, Mass.; Patrick Cannon of Charlotte, N.C.; Richard Kos of Chicopee, Mass. Aja Brown of Compton, Calif.; Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio; John Eberhart of Fairbanks, Alaska; Mark Holland of Kansas City, Kan.; Howard Wiggs of Lakeland, Fla.; Philip Levine of Miami Beach, Fla.; Jerry Morales of Midland, Texas; Toni Harp of New Haven, Conn.; Harry Rilling of Norwalk, Conn.; Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Harry LaRosiliere of Plano, Texas; Lovely Warren of Rochester, N.Y.; Rusty Paul of Sandy Springs, Ga.; Ed Murray of Seattle, Wash.; Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg, Fla; D. Michael Collins of Toledo, Ohio; Ron Bigelow of West Valley City, Utah; and John McNally of Youngstown, Ohio.