Charlotte mayor and others meet with Obama

McClatchy Washington BureauDecember 13, 2013 

— Less than two weeks after being sworn in as mayor of Charlotte, Patrick Cannon made his first trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Barack Obama.

The city’s new chief executive was one of a contingent of newly elected mayors, including New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, invited to the White House to meet with the president, Vice President Joe Biden and their staffs.

The White House said the Obama wanted to learn about the mayors’ needs and to see how the administration could partner with them to create jobs and assist middle class families.

The 16 mayors met in the Roosevelt Room, joined by Valerie Jarrett, a senior presidential advisor, and David Agnew, White House director for Intergovernmental Affairs.

Cannon said he shared with Obama his goals for job growth, extending the light rail line and building a bigger transportation hub that could help process goods coming through an expanded Panama Canal.

He sought the administration’s ideas and assistance for improving the city’s manufacturing base. He said job growth needed to include blue collar, not just white-collar, jobs. He specifically asked Obama for help acquiring federal grants to help pay for new projects like the distribution hub and an expansion of transportation services.

“It went well,” Cannon said in an interview afterword outside the White House. “The president was very in tune to the message I delivered.”

Obama shared his own goals about improving early education, raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits.

“How we make sure that there’s a strong social safety net there that is not a place where people stay over the long term, but rather is a mechanism whereby people who have had some bad luck can get back on their feet and get back into the workforce,” he said.

Cannon was sworn into office on Dec. 2 after winning an election for the mayoral seat left open by Anthony Foxx, who Obama plucked to become the newest U.S. transportation secretary.

This was not the first time Cannon has met Obama. He has attended fundraisers and spoken with him briefly in the past. But this was the first time Cannon said that he was able to sit down with the president and talk about the issues facing Charlotte.

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