Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) New to politics with a long list of goals, Missoula's new mayor has traveled to Harvard University to gain insight on a range of topics as she prepares to embark on her first 100 days in office.

Andrea Davis, the former executive director of a nonprofit, became the city's first newly elected mayor in nearly two decades after winning the November election. Looking to start strong, she's attending the Program for New Mayors at the Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard.

“The idea behind this is you're planning your first 100 days. Coming off the campaign trail into the position itself is a big transition,” Davis told the Missoula Current by phone on Thursday. “This is really meant to help mayors think about how they manage that transition. The city has its own set of agendas and functions. But you campaigned on things you want to accomplish, so it's a matter of finding space in your schedule.”

The Program for New Mayors offers training from university faculty and experts on urban innovation and management. The program teaches new mayors how to set strategic citywide priorities, build effective organization at City Hall, and deliver on campaign promises.

The current class includes mayors from 21 states representing more than 10 million residents. Davis said the class includes mayors from Chicago and Philadelphia to Brownsville, Texas, and Akron, Ohio.

“It's an amazing opportunity to have the academia around local government,” Davis said. “ So much is changing and so many things are happening at the local level. It focuses on how to really set up the start of your mayoral term to be as effective as possible.”

Across the county, cities are now serving as the tip of the spear in addressing a range of global challenges, and the issues facing Missoula aren't unique. From climate change to economic growth, housing affordability to infrastructure, the program is designed to help new mayors make the most of their opportunity as newly elected leaders.

The program originated in 1975 from the Institute of Politics and is fully paid for with program funding.

“It's sounds so basic, but it's really about identifying priories,” said Davis. “We'll be writing out by percentage how we want to spend our time and then communicating that with our team so you can achieve what you set out to do. The City of Missoula has a lot going on.”

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