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Lobbying trip to D.C. can pay big dividends

President Barack Obama signs the Water Resources Reform and Development Act in June, a priority in 2014 for the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s lobbying trip to Washington, D.C.
President Barack Obama signs the Water Resources Reform and Development Act in June, a priority in 2014 for the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s lobbying trip to Washington, D.C. Associated Press file

Whether it’s vertical steel rising from freshly poured concrete for a new downtown arena or the groundbreaking for the new Museum of Art on the UC Davis campus, the economic momentum in the capital region is real and exhilarating. The exciting changes are due to collaboration.

This week, more than 320 business, civic and political leaders from throughout the six-county Sacramento region are in Washington, D.C., for the annual Capitol-to-Capitol program organized by the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. We meet with our members of Congress to promote the capital region and discuss priorities important to the entire six-county region.

Cap-to-Cap was created 45 years ago by a small group dedicated to saving McClellan Air Force Base. That visit led to McClellan’s doors remaining open for another 25 years. Those attendees saw the value in an annual visit to our nation’s capital. These trips have produced successes including securing federal authorization to complete the Natomas levees, improving transportation policies and, last year, promoting our priorities in the $7.5 billion water bond approved in November. Great things can happen when we focus on a common goal and communicate face to face.

Every year, thousands descend on Congress to promote their city and seek funding. What sets the capital region apart is that we work for months beforehand to collectively plot regional initiatives and set our priorities. Our program has become recognized as the gold standard for chambers of commerce around the nation.

This year, our top priorities are water resources, transportation and economic development. As we face a record-breaking drought, our priority is to ensure the Sacramento region has the water needed to thrive in the future. Our request to federal officials is to support a plan recognizing the link between water supplies in Northern California and the rest of the state, in addition to infrastructure improvements and investments.

On transportation, our focus this year is on increased funding for regional projects and improved safety of shipping crude oil by rail. On an innovation economy, our discussions will focus on math, science and technology education, energy tax credits and community development. In addition, nine teams are focused on key policies including air quality, civic amenities, community development, food and agriculture, health care, homeland security, land use and education.

While we represent the city of Sacramento and Yolo County, county and district lines disappear on Cap-to-Cap as we focus on what is best for the region as a whole. This year’s Cap-to-Cap is full of leaders, innovators, creators and implementers. Through intensive collaboration, the possibilities for our region are limitless.

Angelique Ashby is mayor pro tem and represents District 1 on the Sacramento City Council. Oscar Villegas represents District 1 on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. They are honorary vice chairs for this year’s Cap-to-Cap.

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