In this year’s presidential campaign, America seems all tractor pulls,
county fairs, town halls and truck stops. Candidates clad in plaid
scramble for photo
ops, stump in wheatfields and scarf down corn dogs at county fairs. Yet
than 80 percent of Americans live in cities. By relentlessly courting
rural voters
in the early primary states presidential candidates risk ignoring the
issues that matter most to most Americans–housing, mass transportation,
crime and crumbling urban infrastructure. Each candidate should, of
course, have an
urban agenda. But what is it? What should it be?

Mayor TV, a new collaborative project of The Nation and the Drum
Major Institute for Public Policy
, asks the people who know our
cities best: America’s
mayors. In ten lively and insightful interviews, the mayors of Atlanta,
Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis,
Rochester and Salt Lake City offer their prescriptions for a
reinvigorated urban agenda and, in many cases, issue their own
presidential endorsements.

The contrast between the mayors’ priorities and the presidential
candidates’ rhetoric couldn’t be more stark. “In presidential
elections, the media and pollsters focus on issues like war, abortion,
gay rights, things that, quite frankly, for those of us in the trenches,
aren’t the hot-button issues,” says Miami Mayor Manny Diaz in a taped
interview. “People want
to know that their kids will get a good education, that their
neighborhoods will be safe and clean…. It’s difficult for me to
understand how presidential candidates don’t see that. Those are the
issues that affect Americans each and every day. We [mayors] are dealing
with them, and [candidates] should also be dealing with them.”

The challenges and frustrations of urban America are evident in these
interviews, but even more apparent are the exciting ways in which theses mayors are
taking the lead to innovate new solutions to old problems. MayorTV
videos can be found on the VideoNation YouTube
, and

The Mayors’ Responses:

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz

Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy
Boston Mayor Tom Menino