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De Blasio joins other mayors in call for federal investment in cities

BALTIMORE -- Mayor Bill de Blasio Saturday joined more than two dozen mayors from across the country to call on all presidential candidates to support investment in the infrastructure and other needs of cities, which they called the engines of the nation's economy.

"What's important for all these mayors here is that the fundamental investments in our infrastructure allow us to thrive to create opportunity and help build the whole nation. If cities do not get that investment, we can't move forward as a nation," de Blasio said.

Two days after the mass shooting at a college in Roseburg, Oregon, de Blasio and the mayors also said they have differences about whether more gun-control measures would help, but they all agreed that more attention and funding need to be devoted to mental health care and early childhood education.

Referring to recurring mass shootings, de Blasio said, "We know the trajectory of violence would be changed by robust mental health plans that actually help people and . . . by reaching a lot of young people earlier with education."

De Blasio made his comments at a news conference during a meeting here of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, convened to draft a 10-point "call to action" for presidential candidates to address infrastructure, a clean environment, urban violence and public safety.

"As mayors, we have a really large bully pulpit," said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the conference president, one they will use in the race for president to insert the cities' agenda into the national debate.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, the conference vice president and a Republican, said the 10-point agenda will have "a very broad consensus." He said it would explain that the president "needs to be our partner" who should send "money directly to cities," not through the states.

De Blasio said he agreed with Cornett.

"We have not had a federal partnership that truly understands the strategic power of our cities for many years," he said, and "2015, 2016 is an ideal time to change that discussion because none of the presidential candidates can afford to ignore cities at this point."

At the news conference, de Blasio took a pass again on endorsing Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose 2000 New York Senate campaign he managed, or anyone else for president.

De Blasio initially hesitated to make his planned trip to Washington on Friday and Baltimore Saturday out of concern over Hurricane Joaquin, but went ahead after the storm's track veered away from the coastline.

He ducked into the baseball game between the visiting New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, across the street from the conference, before heading back to New York.

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