Great Lakes mayors tell presidential candidates to make lakes a priority
Posted on the Toledo Free Press on December 21, 2007
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Board of Directors will send questionnaires to the presidential candidates to get their thoughts on the waterways after the primaries, Racine Mayor Gary Becker said as the group met in his city. The 15-member board includes Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.
It also will work with candidates on both sides to help them understand what's at stake.
“We'll be challenging the U.S. presidential candidates, whoever they are, from each party, to take strong positions on the Great Lakes,'' Becker said.
The effort is similar to one being done by a group of governors in states that surround the Great Lakes.
In November, governors of the eight Great Lakes states called on the 2008 presidential candidates to make protecting the lakes a priority. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, chair of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, said that's key to winning battleground states.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said issues confronting the Great Lakes are as important as saving the Florida Everglades.
Cities around the lakes need long-term money for things like wastewater infrastructure, he said. They also need to combat the problem of invasive species.
Daley said the group wants clear answers from the presidential candidates regarding their positions. It also will reach out to candidates for Congress and the Senate, he said.
“We need to push every candidate for office to support us on these issues,'' he said.
The mayors also said they want to protect the water in the region. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has been one of the few candidates to raise the issue. While campaigning in water-parched Nevada, the Democrat called for a national water policy.
“Wisconsin is awash in water,'' he said.
Many took that as a sign he'd try to divert water from the lakes.