Lehrke helps shape policies affecting counties at NACo meeting


Washington County Commissioner Autumn Lehrke joined 1,800 other county officials from across the country July 13-17 to adopt policies and share ideas at the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition in Pittsburgh.

NACo’s Annual Conference is the most important gathering of county officials of the year. Decisions made each summer conference allow counties to speak with a 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.

“We are not alone in the challenges we are facing here in Washington County to deliver services and programs during these tough economic times,” Lehrke said. “By talking with our fellow county officials and 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,” she added. “That’s why our involvement in NACo is so important. It’s our voice in Washington.”

Lehrke serves on NACo’s Membership Standing and Community and Economic Development Steering committees, Minnesota delegation and is a NACo voting delegate. She also participates in NACo committee meetings that she is not a member of, for example, the Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering panel as she has a special interest in solid waste issues.

Counties and parishes 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 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 NACo meeting 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 federal 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 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.

Lehrke attended several meetings and workshops. A few of the topics include open spaces, jobs and capital development and railroads.

In addition, conference participants heard from experts and prominent national speakers throughout the five-day conference including U.S. 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 www.naco.org for summary of remarks.

For more information about the 2012 NACo Annual Conference, contact Jim Philipps at [email protected] or 202.942.4220.