Hawai’i County Councilmember K. Angel Pilago joined 1,800 fellow county officials from across the country July 13‐17 to adopt policies and share ideas to help lead the nation toward economic recovery during the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition in Allegheny County/Pittsburgh.
NACo’s Annual Conference is the most important gathering of county officials of the year. Decisions made each summer during the conference allow counties to speak with a strong, clear and unified voice to the Administration, Congress and the American people on issues ranging from transportation infrastructure, access to health care, and court and jail systems.
Pilago said the conference was productive and informative. “We are not alone in the challenges we are facing here at home to deliver services and programs during these tough economic times,” Councilmember Pilago said. “Only by talking with our fellow county officials sharing best practices and practical solutions will we be able to kick‐start our economy.
NACo’s educational workshops are a terrific vehicle for that interaction and engagement. “The bottom line is that while recovery begins here at the county level, the federal government must be on the same page as us,” Pilago said. “That’s why our involvement in NACo is so important. It’s our voice in Washington.”
NACo President Lenny Eliason, Commissioner, Athens County, Ohio, said the nation’s counties are deeply concerned about funding for a variety of federal programs, which directly affect counties and communities and new federal regulations under consideration. “The Administration and Congress need to be reminded almost daily how the decisions they make affect us at the county level and the services we provide directly to the American people,” Eliason said. “We work tirelessly all year to preserve local governing authority and caution Washington when they try to shift federal costs onto states and local governments.”
Counties in most states are responsible for providing essential services to communities, including maintaining roads and bridges, operating airports and other transit systems, delivering critical health care services, providing law enforcement, courtroom and jail services, funding schools, and numerous human services for seniors, children and families. Counties are the first line of defense for natural disaster emergencies and pandemic preparedness and response.
During the Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, county officials through NACo’s 11 policy steering committees set the county agenda and legislative priorities for 2012‐13 so counties can speak with one voice before the Administration and Congress. Issues addressed included budget and revenue; rural and urban development, green government; transportation; public safety; emergency preparedness and response; housing and more.
Policy resolutions adopted at the conference will be posted soon at http://www.naco.org. Conference participants also attended a variety of educational workshop sessions to gain greater understanding of issues affecting county government and how many counties are finding innovative, cost‐effective way to provide services and programs.
During Tuesday’s Election of Officers and Business meeting, NACo membership elected and installed its 2012‐13 officers: President: Chris Rodgers, Commissioner, Douglas County, Neb.; First Vice President: Linda Langston, Supervisor, Linn County, Iowa; Second Vice President: G. Riki Hokama, Council Member, Maui County, Hawaii; and Immediate Past President Lenny Eliason, Commissioner, Athens County, Ohio. On Monday, President Eliason announced that Matthew D. Chase has been named the association’s new Executive Director. He will replace the retiring Larry E. Naake this fall.
Chase joins NACo from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), which represents the nation’s local government‐based regional planning and development organizations. He has served as NADO’s Executive Director since 2003 and was previously the Director of Legislative Affairs and Deputy Executive Director. In addition, conference attendees heard from experts and prominent national speakers throughout the five‐day conference including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; political journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann; retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; and author Jay Wilkinson. See below or visit