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La Cañada leaders attend national city forum

Trip is part of LCF's concerted effort to participate in outside political groups.

March 20, 2014|By Sara Cardine, sara.cardine@latimes.com
  • From right to left, La Cañada Mayor Pro Tem Mike Davitt with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Davitt's wife, left, earlier this month at the National League of Cities Conference in Washington, D.C.
From right to left, La Cañada Mayor Pro Tem Mike… (Photo courtesy…)

Last week, as City Hall went about its business, two elected officials took that business to the nation’s capital, representing La Cañada in the National League of Cities (NLC) Conference in Washington, D.C.

The annual event allows some 1,500 local representatives to network and speak to members of Congress and heads of federal agencies about issues relevant to their communities.

This year, City Council member Dave Spence and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Davitt headed to the Hill to seek ideas and relationships that could be of local benefit. The city annually budgets $2,400 for one official to attend, but this year decided to send two.

“Talking face to face with people who could make a difference for the city is quite important,” said Spence, who said he’s attended the conference eight times in his 22-year tenure.

La Cañada relies heavily on relationships it builds with state and federal politicians who represent the Foothills area, as well as its associations with larger political advocacy groups.

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That’s why council members hold seats on the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and League of California Cities, convene with L.A. County’s regional mayors and serve on the California Contract Cities Assn. (CCCA), an advocacy group for cities that receive municipal services from larger entities, among other commitments.

“That’s an excellent way for a city such as ours to access information and be able to interface with other cities who face the same situations we do,” said Davitt, who serves on CCCA’s executive board. “If you’re a part of that larger group, you’re in on that representation.”

To further ensure La Cañada’s voice gets heard among higher levels of government, the city contracts with lobbying firms that monitor and review legislative changes.

State lobbyists can bend politicians’ ears, testify on the city’s behalf and locate funding sources for area projects, like the construction of sound walls along the Foothill (210) Freeway and, more recently, restoration of the Flint Trail and Flint Wash. They work alongside agencies to respond to the city’s concerns and secure disaster relief funding.

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