COLUMBIA — On Monday, Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman had no idea that he would be in Washington, D.C., on Friday for a special meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Hindman was one of 80 mayors from across the country who met with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Cabinet secretaries representing the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education and Justice.
“This was a very exciting event,” Hindman said. “This is just the beginning, not only in regards to the economy, but in the government’s role and the positions of the government.”
The White House called a special meeting to discuss the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly known as the stimulus plan.
The mayors got an opportunity to ask questions regarding how cities go about qualifying and applying for funds.
Hindman was most interested in infrastructure and weatherization funds. Weatherization is a way to keep homes from losing heat by using basic energy efficiency measures, such as weather-stripping, caulking and insulation.
While no direct actions or fund allocations resulted from the summit, Hindman was optimistic about changes in funding but stressed the need to be mindful of accountability.
“We have to be accountable with funds and be sure that we meet new regulatory measures,” he said.
Hindman is confident that Columbia will benefit from stimulus measures thanks to the city's track record of accountability and innovative ideas.
Hindman was honored to meet Obama and said he appreciated both his generosity and straighforwardness.
“He is a very, very nice person. He appears to be a square shooter. I like when he explained his positions," he said. "He has solid explanations.”
Hindman said that Biden gives off the impression of having a lot of wisdom.
“Biden is similar to how he is portrayed on the news,” he said. “It feels like he is a solid person."
Hindman will be releasing more details about the meeting to the city early next week at the City Council meeting.