Black mayors experience Breckenridge during weekend leadership conference |

Black mayors experience Breckenridge during weekend leadership conference

LORY POUNDERsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Eric Drummond

BRECKENRIDGE – Part of being a mayor means keeping up with life that is ever-changing, being able to think outside the box and understanding leadership, said Mayor Bobby Washington who has 15 years experience in the role.He is the first black mayor of Cullen, La., currently serving his fourth term. And this weekend, he is brushing up on his leadership skills as one of the more than 40 mayors from throughout the country in Breckenridge for the National Conference of Black Mayors’ Leadership Institute Training.”The more you know about life, the better you can make decisions. … The conference always gives me something to go back with,” Washington said. It is place to share ideas and support each other, he continued.More than 600 mayors belong to the National Conference of Black Mayors, Inc. that has held training for the past 18 years in Florida. This year, however, they decided to try a new location based on former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb’s recommendation.While here, they will be experiencing a bit of Breckenridge. Sleigh rides and snowmobile trips are planned. And Friday, following morning training sessions, the mayors had a chance to learn a bit about one of Breckenridge’s leaders at the Barney Ford House Museum. Ford escaped slavery and was the first black businessman in Town who, in the 1800s, fought tirelessly against racial discrimination and for civil rights. Webb said he recommended Breckenridge because many of the mayors are from smaller Southern cities. He felt this would be a great opportunity to experience a different place.Throughout the weekend, the mayors, who arrived Thursday and will stay through Sunday, will be trained in communications, infrastructure building, as well as discuss domestic and international issues. Some are new mayors while others attended to add to their leadership skills, explained Mayor George Grace of St. Gabriel, La., a city with a population of about 8,000. Also, they range from small towns to big cities, he continued, adding that the mayor of Detroit is in attendance.The ideas presented are ones that are common for all of them, said Grace who is also the president of the National Conference of Black Mayors. A few of the top domestic issues that may come up include education, providing resources for infrastructure, economic development and America’s place in the world, and an additional part of the group’s mission is educational outreach and to act as good ambassadors for the U.S., Grace said.Before the museum tour Friday afternoon, Breckenridge Mayor Ernie Blake attended a lunch with the mayors at Hearthstone Restaurant and gave them all a holiday ornament gift.”We are honored to have this group here,” he said.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at

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