County officials from across the nation are gathering in Prince George’s County, Maryland, this weekend to discuss issues counties are facing.
The National Association of Counties, which represents 3,069 counties throughout the country, is holding its 2021 annual conference in-person and virtually from July 9 to July 12 in Prince George’s.
It’s featuring speakers such as Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
NACO Communication Director Paul Guequierre told WTOP, “This conference is county leaders from across the country coming together for the first time, for all of us, since before the pandemic began.”
Last year’s conference was canceled and NACO was able to hold part of the originally planned event virtually. He said normally NACO annual conferences take three years to plan, but this year’s conference was planned in three months.
He said that county leaders talk about the issues they’re collectively facing: “So that could be political, could be economic, could be cyber security, any issue that counties are facing, we’ll talk about here.”
The main theme this year is COVID-19 recovery. The American Rescue Plan, which President Joe Biden signed back in March, included $65.1 billion in aid for counties across the country.
“It was the largest federal investment in counties ever,” Guequierre said. “So this is a great time for county leaders to come together to discuss what they’re doing back home in their counties, in terms of recovering from COVID-19, both on the public health front and the economic recovery front.”
He said that although a large focus of the conference will be on COVID-19, other issues such as infrastructure will also be a focus.
“All of the issues that counties face did not go away when COVID came,” Guequierre said.
WTOP’s Acacia James contributed to this report.