County Leaders Convene at National Conference After 18 Months of Bold Leadership on Front Lines of the Pandemic

Submitted by gallagha on Tue, 07/20/2021 - 08:46


PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md.— Paul M. Wendel, Jr., County Executive of Chautauqua County, New York joined more than 2,000 county leaders July 9-12 in Prince George’s County, Md. and virtually for the National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference, the first in-person meeting since before the pandemic began.


“It was a great experience to see the progress we have made here in Chautauqua County in comparison to other counties around the nation,” said Wendel. “I was also honored and humbled to share NYSAC’s newly released book, Our Darkest Hour, with county leaders from across the nation who were interested on how county officials in New York state handled the COVID pandemic.”


NACo Immediate Past President Gary Moore highlighted the year’s accomplishments, including several significant federal policy victories, particularly the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act which includes $65.1 billion in direct, flexible aid to every county in America, as well as other crucial investments in local communities. NACo members elected DeKalb County, Ga. Commissioner Larry Johnson president and celebrated the leadership of county officials on the front lines of the pandemic throughout the past year.


After 18 months of bold leadership, county appointed and elected officials convened to discuss strategies to drive recovery in our communities, as well as federal policy and legislation on a wide range of key issues. More than three dozen educational workshops and meetings explored topics including infrastructure, broadband accessibility, affordable housing, technology, reducing the number of mentally ill individuals in jails, economic development, disaster preparedness and recovery and other topics important to counties across the country.


Wendel participated in several meetings including:

  • Healthy County Advisory Board Meeting,
  • State Policy Trends and County Priorities,
  • Book Reading: Our Darkest Hours: New York County Leadership and the COVID Pandemic,
  • LUCC/RAC: Future of County Infrastructure,
  • Investing with Equity: How to Ensure All Residents Benefit From Your County’s ARPA Allocation, and
  • County Strategies for Navigating Opioid Settlements.


“I learned a great deal of information regarding the American Rescue Plan Act funding and how to best utilize funds to serve all residents in Chautauqua County,” said Wendel.


Notable speakers included Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, U.S. Representative Garrett Graves (R-La.), IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department Wally Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce Don Graves and United States Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.


More information about the conference is available here.



The National Association of Counties (NACo) strengthens America’s counties, including nearly 40,000 county elected officials and 3.6 million county employees. Founded in 1935, NACo unites county officials to advocate for county government priorities in federal policymaking; promote exemplary county policies and practices; nurture leadership skills and expand knowledge networks; optimize county and taxpayer resources and cost savings; and enrich the public’s understanding of county government. www.naco.org

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