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Governing Cities in the Coming Decade: The Democratic and Regional Disconnects


Bill Barnes is director for emerging issues at the National League of Cities. He earned a doctorate from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, and he received the 2010 Donald Stone Award for contributions to the field of intergovernmental management from SIAM/ASPA. He coauthored, with Larry C. Ledebur, The New Regional Economies: The U.S. Common Market and the Global Economy (Sage, 1998).


How will cities be governed in 2020? The answer will depend to a significant degree on reducing two “disconnects”: one between municipal government and its citizenry, and the other between municipal government and its region. Elected, managerial, and intellectual leaders need to strengthen their understanding, capacities, and skills regarding public engagement and regional engagement across jurisdictional boundaries. Enhanced performance of these functions will improve cities’ ability to address problems and seize opportunities in the decade ahead.