The leaders of America’s cities have serious concerns about race relations, minority communities and policing issues as the nation approaches the one-year anniversary of last year’s unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, a POLITICO Magazine survey finds. And urban public schools—widely identified by experts as the key to improvement of neighborhood conditions, racial equity and social mobility—won’t offer a solution anytime soon, according to large majorities of mayors who also expressed deep dissatisfaction with the state of their city’s public education systems, citing lack of funding, high drop-out rates and racial segregation as their leading causes of concern.
Fully nine out of 10 mayors surveyed expressed concern about the state of race relations and police in their city, according to the survey, with nearly a third describing themselves as “deeply concerned” about race and policing in their cities. The revelation illustrates the intensity and seriousness with which mayors have taken up the issue, as cities from Baltimore to New York City to Ferguson have dealt with public unrest over the last year.
The findings were part of POLITICO Magazine’s second quarterly national Mayors’ Survey, conducted over the course of July as part of the magazine’s award-winning “What Works” series, which heard from 31 mayors spanning the country from Philadelphia to Tampa to San Francisco to New Orleans to Anchorage. While not scientific—the large majority of respondents were Democrats, 77 percent, as well as three independents and four Republicans—the survey represented a diverse range of cities from across the nation and showed clear trends across cities of varying sizes, political traditions and geographic regions.
Debates and flare-ups around alleged police misconduct have seized cities as disparate as Philadelphia, Madison and Houston—each governed by mayors who participated in the POLITICO Magazine survey—and across the nation, mayors have begun to lead efforts to repair community trust and broach policy discussions about department conduct.