President Donald J. Trump

President Donald J. Trump: “Since I first took office, my Administration has made it a priority to invite County Commissioners from across the United States to the White House… I’m pleased to say that more than 3,700 local officials from all 50 States have now participated in a White House State Leadership Conference.”

Federal Officials

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke: “It’s important to get local input whenever we make decisions in Washington because all of these decisions that come to Washington that impact folks’ daily lives are more than just papers stacked on someone’s desk. They are real people who live in real towns. Meeting local leaders is an invaluable way to ensure their voices are heard and reflected in our decision making. The state and local government leadership days at the White House have been incredibly helpful for my team and me to make these connections.”

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue: “As always, the State Leadership Days are opportunities to hear directly from leaders across the American heartland and for us to give folks updates on agricultural issues affecting their communities. President Trump has done an unprecedented amount of outreach to local elected officials, and I am proud to be a part of it. It’s true, often the government that is closest to the people matters the most.”

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson: “I’m always glad to come to the White House and speak to leaders from across the Nation. These events are a testament to this Administration’s commitment to prioritizing close collaboration with our state, local, and tribal partners. Hearing directly from local leaders helps HUD better tailor our programs to help the vulnerable families we serve.”

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao: “The White House State Leadership days are a great opportunity for the Department to reach out to hundreds of state and local officials, to both understand and assist them with their infrastructure needs.”

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie: “President Trump and the Administration are focused on working closely with state and local governments to solve problems across the nation with all voices heard.  Events such as this one today allow continuous and informative dialogue aimed at ensuring focus on helping our fellow citizens wherever we can. One example of strong cooperation between VA and state and local government officials is with VA’s recent work during and after the hurricanes in several states to provide medical care, food, and other services to local Veterans and non-Veteran citizens.  This is a direct result of the good working relationship this Administration has built with state and local leaders under President Trump’s leadership.”

Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Andrew Wheeler: “Today’s event reflects the many ways the Trump Administration is working to rebalance federal and state roles and provide states the regulatory certainty they need to protect the environment and enhance economic growth. We are making tremendous progress by working with states as partners, not opponents, in our efforts to improve air quality, clean up contaminated lands, and ensure all Americans have access to clean and safe water.”

Administrator of the Small Business Administration Linda McMahon: “President Trump is committed to moving our nation towards greater prosperity and is engaging with officials in every State to ensure that happens. As the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration and an advocate for small business, I value meeting with state officials through the White House’s State Leadership initiative and discussing with them how the SBA is providing resources to boost small businesses in their communities. This Administration knows how critical small businesses are to our states’ and our nation’s economies, and the President is committed to developing policies that have a direct impact on their success.”

Chairman of the Speaker’s Task Force on Intergovernmental Affairs Rep. Rob Bishop (R–UT): “State and local officials live, work, and raise their families among the people they represent. Their knowledge of local needs must always be respected. I am heartened to know this Administration gets it. To have invited every County Commissioner in the country to the White House is a remarkable and historic effort. Collaborating with these leaders shows a clear understanding of the importance of federalism and receiving input from the most local of levels.”

State Officials

Governor Doug Burgum (R–ND): “I’ve had a chance to meet 40-plus other governors from both parties. It doesn’t matter which party they’re in, they say they’ve never had more access to cabinet people.  They’ve had more access in the last eight months or 12 months to cabinet leaders than they had in the previous eight years.”

Governor Pete Ricketts (R–NE): “For the last eight years, federal bureaucrats have taken a dismissive attitude towards input from states across the Nation. Today, the voices of states are being heard thanks to the new Administration. This cultural change isn’t happening by accident. It’s being led from the top, starting with President Trump and his Cabinet.”

Governor Bill Haslam (R–TN): “The states were really created to be laboratories of democracy. There is a world of difference between this Administration and the last one when we as the state call Washington. In the past it was literally playing ‘mother may I.’ They say ‘well…’ then they’d call back a little later say ‘no we can’t do that.’ Now when you call – no matter what department they say, ‘What do you guys think? What do you all think will work?’ It’s just a different approach. So it’s working like it’s supposed to.”

Governor Gary Herbert (R–UT): “What I really appreciate though is that you have, in fact, reached out to the States. … But your Administration, much better than the previous administration, has reached out to States and said, ‘We want to know what you think, what you can do. And maybe put more responsibility back to the States.’ That’s, I think, a secret for continued success for this country.”

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes (R): “These are not just photo ops. It’s not just cool to be inside the compound. These are going to be working meetings. This administration wants to work with us more closely than that.”

West Virginia Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld (R): “Since I’ve been an elected official, I’ve never heard of Washington trying to open up a dialogue between the White House and local officials. Today, it seems they were trying to open up a discussion between the executive office and us in West Virginia. That’s something as an elected official I didn’t have before — contacts in D.C. for someone in every agency that I can reach out to.”

Iowa State Senator Brad Zaun (R): “Being a public servant for many years I have never had any presidential administration reach out to invite me for a White House briefing. This day was very informative with Q & A’s from all major federal departments. At the end of the day we were provided a contact list, which included key names, email addresses, and phone numbers of each department. This day demonstrated to me that President Trump sincerely cares about our local elected officials and most important our constituents regardless of political affiliations!”

Montana State Representative Steve Gunderson (R): “The conference gave me renewed vigor in knowing President Trump is taking us in the right direction. It’s unbelievable to be invited to join conversations in DC that normally were a world away in past administrations. Great program and I hope it is one that is continued!”

New Hampshire State Representative Greg Hill (R): “Thank you very much for the invitation to come to Washington and hear about the new initiatives coming forth from the Republican Administration.  I had a wonderful time and learned much that will help me be a better Representative for my district and my State.”

South Carolina State Representative Lucas Atkinson (D): “It was an honor to attend the White House Leadership Conference hosted by President Trump’s Administration. I heard from cabinet level speakers and was able to learn what their initiatives were. I don’t believe an event like this was ever done in prior administrations. What an honor to be a part of this event.”

South Carolina State Representative Bill Taylor (R): “That type of communication is bound to improve government.”

Local Leaders

National Association of Counties: “The National Association of Counties applauds the White House for engaging county elected officials from across the country. Face-to-face communications and relationship building are pivotal to improving our intergovernmental partnerships. Through this unprecedented series of meetings, county leaders talked directly with top administration officials about pressing issues, such as disaster mitigation and recovery, infrastructure needs, the opioid epidemic and public lands management.”

Commissioner Steven Aderholt (Walker County, AL): “County commissioners have never been invited to the White House in the history of the White House, to my knowledge, and they didn’t go through agencies. They didn’t go through anyone else. They emailed us all directly. It was truly an honor to sit there and listen to the leaders of our country and for them to hear from us.”

Supervisor Hildy Angius (Mohave County, AZ): “They said they understand the hard jobs we have and how the decisions they make in Washington affect us, and they wanted to do a better job of communication with us.”

Commissioner Dan Gibbs (Summit County, CO): “It was a unique opportunity to share with key White House staffers the kind of challenges we have with Summit, as well as to make connections and get to know the staffers who implement policy.”

Mayor Ashton Hayward (Pensacola, FL): “The Trump Administration has led the way on unprecedented outreach to local elected officials. They have been a great partner on shared priorities.”

Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills (Forsyth County, GA): “All of us commissioners that were there, that were going through, we all felt very blessed and fortunate that a president would care enough about the county that he would reach out and offer this to us.”

County Chairman David Zimmerman (Tazewell County, IL): “What an opportunity to be given briefings by Executive Branch officials on the very issues we encounter every day.  The questions they answered and the resources we were given will be put to immediate use.  I am grateful for the invitation and I look forward to strengthening our partnership.”

Commissioner Jon Weber (Madison County, ID): “This invitation has never been extended by any administration until the Trump Administration. The information that was shared was promoting putting power back into local government. It gives us hope going in to these projects that typically, what is a long drawn out process is shortened, not tied up and sitting in someone’s desk. They’re serious about getting it done and helping us get it done.”

Commissioner LaVerne Myers (Dickinson County, KS): “It was one of the best conferences I have ever gone to. A lot of the speakers there brought it out that they want to work more closely with the people out in the counties.”

Sheriff Thomas Hodgson (Bristol County, MA): “This direct link between The White House and my local community is a breath of fresh air. It shows all my neighbors that no issue, no problem, no matter is too small for my President.”

Sheriff Steven Tompkins (Suffolk County, MA): “When I first received the invitation from the White House to attend their conference with state and local leaders I was uncertain as to what information was going to be disseminated. That said, I must admit, after listening to and chatting with principles from the Departments of Labor, Education, Drug Abuse, Transportation, Veteran Affairs, and the Office of the Public Liaison I left the gathering with a clear understanding of how this Administration wants to work in tandem with the states and local municipalities to strengthen the communities and citizens that we serve. This was a job well done.”

Commissioner Ellen Ellenburg (Genesee County, MI): “This type of meeting has never been done in any administration before. It was very informative with department staff there to answer questions from area county commissioners. I will be able to use the contact information from the various departments to share with my fellow commissioners and municipalities that I represent.”

Commissioners Chair Dale Shugars (Kalamazoo County, MI): “Our traditional path of getting the federal government to work with the local is through Congress. This has opened up a whole new avenue for all the counties in Michigan.”

Commissioner Char Christenson (Hubbard County, MN): “They know for at least 30 years this has not been done, where commissioners have been invited to Washington. President Trump’s goal is to move beyond the governors and get down to the local level. If we have questions or are having trouble with something, they want us to contact them. This was just an amazing experience. I walked away feeling that we can have an input with some results at the local level.”

Commissioner Susan Morris (Isanti County, MN): “For the first time ever, I heard from the White House Staff say, ‘We are here for you and we want to be partners in the Federal programs.’ They all gave us contact info and they were very sincere. Even Vice President Pence reassured us that ‘this is not a once and done.’ It took a few days for it all to sink in, but I left Washington, DC, feeling empowered with these new relationships to really fix problems that we run into back home. Thank you for reaching out to us as County Leaders!”

Commissioner David Dick (Pettis County, MO): “It wasn’t just a meeting where they spoke and we listened. We interacted and there was a good discussion and dialogue. It was very clear that they didn’t care what the political beliefs were of those who attended. They didn’t care about the politics just in getting information firsthand from the people directly impacted on a daily basis.”

Mayor Bill Cole (Billings, MT): “It was an honor to represent Montana’s largest city at the White House State Leadership Conference.  We had great meetings with key White House staffers who will help me identify funding resources, overcome regulatory hurdles, and attract new businesses to Billings.”

Commissioner Pat Sykes (Brunswick County, NC): “Our President and his Administration are bridging the gap between the federal government and local government. No President in my six years has reached out to local leaders. It was amazing to have a one on one discussion about our county issues.”

Commissioner Paul Buchannan (Onslow County, NC): “The speakers we had were just out of this world. It was just amazing. It was a really outstanding trip.”

Commissioner Chair Jake Johnson (Polk County, NC): “We walked away feeling like our voices were heard. Even more than that, we walked away with contact information for all of the major departments in Washington, and a point of contact that will be invaluable.”

Commissioner Nathan Berseth (Richland County, ND): “Having that accessibility, knowing who to contact, is sometimes worth the weight in gold. I think if you ask anyone who was there, they’d say we gleaned a lot of information. This kind of unprecedented meeting, plus the promise for greater accessibility, was indeed worthwhile.”

Commissioner Mary Scherling (Cass County, ND): “That was their message. This is a White House that really wants to reach out and build relationships with local governments because the problems are local and the local official will know what their solutions might be.”

Chairwoman Jane Richardson (Hall County, NE): “They were open to hear from us and they seemed really sincere about our concerns. It kind of gives you a feeling that we are all working together on this. It’s not an ‘us versus them’ situation.”

Commissioner Susan Flores (Otero County, NM): “This Administration really wants to know what’s going on at the local level. It’s the first time I’ve known this to have happened with any presidential administration and it was an opportunity to go meet them and talk to the ones that were available.”

Commissioner Rebecca Long, President of New Mexico Counties Association (Lea County, NM): “The White House briefing was extremely informative, and the ability to meet with and hear from top Administration officials was unprecedented.   We were provided with contact information for key federal officials, and were made to feel that counties really matter!”

Commissioner Lorinda Wichman (Nye County, NV): “After ten years of public service, it was a great experience to be invited into the White House to meet the members of the Administration.  The briefings were informative and comfortable.  This practice serves to get us all on the same page.  The contact sheets provided make our job so much easier.  I appreciate the opportunity to be invited. Thank you.”

Commissioner John O’Brien (Miami County, OH): “I’ve been an elected county official for 23 years, the last 11 as commissioner, and this is the first time I’ve ever been asked to come to the White House, no matter who the administration is, to voice our needs and what’s happened to our counties.”

Chairwoman Marilyn John (Richland County, OH): “The speakers were very aware of the issues specific to Ohio and the individuals indicated they did their research. All the speakers spoke briefly and took questions, so we were able to talk about projects and issues we are dealing with. It was a conversation.”

Commissioner Mick Schumacher (Monroe County, OH): “It was extremely well-organized. I was so encouraged that they were overdoing it to be accommodating. They made a point to have Cabinet representatives from the state of Ohio for us to connect with.”

Commissioner Laureen Cummings (Lackawanna County, PA): “President Trump wanted his staff to hear from leaders who talk to people every day. It was also very beneficial to meet the individuals, share ideas and make contacts with the people that you could call directly. The conference gave us a direct link to the White House.”

Commissioner Rod Ruddock (Indiana County, PA): “It’s good to know we have open and direct lines of communication with the federal government.”

Mayor Andy Ingram (Cheraw, SC): “It was a great meeting! Being able to meet and listen to many members of the President’s Administration and learn what their objectives are was very impressive. The contact information given to us is worth its weight in gold. Since the meeting, we have already made direct contact with FEMA, EPA and the Army Corps since Hurricane Florence and Michael.”

Councilman Robbie Templeton (Greenwood County, SC): “We have obtained a point of contact for every federal department that reports to the president of the United States. This information itself is pure gold.”

Supervisor Dan Murray (Warren County, VA): “It is reaching out to your front line people, to people that live in the communities and represent the communities. And it’s given us the ability to make a contact and get information without a million phone calls.”

Supervisor Susan Lascolette (Goochland County, VA): “…Open lines of communication between local, state and federal governments are a critical aspect of good government that citizens have come to expect and certainly deserve. The Virginia IGA conference in Washington, DC, made unprecedented strides in this area by enhancing direct communication between the federal government and the local government that serves the citizens of Goochland County.”

Supervisor Erin Decker (Kenosha County, WI): “There were numerous speakers telling us what’s going on in their departments, how they want us to reach out, that they’re there to help us. I think we learned a lot, and we now know the Administration really wants to help local officials.”

Mayor Jose Segarra (Killeen, TX): “The Administration has been adamant in trying to reach out to local leaders to get feedback from us. That’s important to make us feel that we are important whether we are at the local, state, or federal level.”

Judge J.D. Clark (Wise County, TX): “Local government is the government closest to the people, so the White House being willing to engage with counties and listen to our issues and concerns is welcomed and appreciated.  Our discussions centered on regulatory reform, infrastructure, workforce development, vocational education, and disaster recovery, so to be able to connect those federal priorities and conversations with county-level ideas and issues was productive and informative.”