Front-Line Insights: First Suburban Leaders on their Challenges, and Solutions

February 15, 2006

“One-Fifth of America” documents the special challenges confronting first suburbs.

Some suburban leaders have risen to the challenge, and what they’ve done is instructive to policymakers at all levels. The study’s lead author, Robert Puentes, talked with suburban leaders to hear about the specific challenges they face, and the solutions they’ve developed.

Living in a Policy Blindspot
Officials from first suburbs around the country explain the blindspot they’re in and how it affects their communities.

listen (MP3—5.6MB)

Challenges of an Elderly Population
The number of elderly residents in first suburbs increased at almost twice the national rate from 1950-2000. Ms. Virginia Barney, city manager of Upper Arlington, OH discusses how to meet their needs and help ensure they can stay in their homes.

listen to the complete interview (MP3—2.1MB)

Policies to Meet the Needs of Foreign-Born Families
Almost 29 percent of the US foreign-born population lives in first suburbs. Council Member Pam Carter from Tukwila, WA and her city are working to meet the educational needs of these first generations, and hopes to retain this new population.

listen to the complete interview (MP3—6.4MB)

Creating Economically-Integrated Neighborhoods of Choice
Although concentrated poverty is dropping sharply in urban areas, it is increasing at an alarming rate in first suburbs. Mayor Daniel Pocek of Bedford, OH discusses some approaches for strengthening neighborhoods and an innovative core city/suburb integrated approach to economic development.

listen to the complete interview (MP3—1.9MB)

Remake and Renew the Economic and Physical Landscape
First suburbs need tools and resources for community revitalization. Mayor Mike McGlynn of Medford, MA and two neighboring cities created an unusual coalition that increased their political clout and attracted funding for integrated redevelopment.

listen to the complete interview (MP3—5.6MB)

Promote Regional Cohesion and Collaboration
The high degree of fragmentation among first suburbs creates competition among them, and may hinder their ability to grapple with challenges that are of a regional nature. Diana Ewy Sharp, a member of the Prarie Village, KS City Council discusses how she and others are changing the way they think.

listen to the complete interview (MP3—3.6MB)