An advertisement flyer showing a child’s hand lists five ways to address homelessness.
An ad for Close to Home shows a father and daughter.
A color flow chart showing goals and activities set forth by the Homelessness Committee.
A color process chart showing the Metro Mayors Caucus consensus process.

 

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Colorado Metro Mayors Caucus

 

Background

The Colorado Metro Mayors Caucus, founded in 1993, is a nationally recognized voluntary and collaborative membership organization for mayors in the Denver region. The Caucus is a unique forum that fosters personal relationships and uses dialogue to identify common purposes, challenges, and solutions that benefit both the area and member municipalities.

Seven mayors formed the Caucus in 1993 in a sincere effort to create a forum where municipal leaders could effectively address a variety of regional programs. Today, the Caucus is comprised of 41 municipalities in the Denver metropolitan region and is known throughout the United States as a key factor in promoting the region’s nationally recognized culture of collaboration.

Structure

Mayors from 41 municipalities in the Denver metropolitan area comprise the Caucus. An Executive Committee, which includes a Chair, up to two Co-Vice Chairs, past chairs still in office, and several at-large mayor members, leads the Caucus. The Executive Committee is responsible for planning and conducting the bi-monthly Full Caucus meetings and recommending policy positions for adoption by the Caucus consensus. The Executive Committee is also responsible for strategic planning, including identifying barriers to metropolitan cooperation, recognizing regional issues and challenges, developing the Caucus’s focus and planned activities, and measuring the Caucus’s success against performance indicators.

Subcommittees and task forces are established to address specific issues. These subcommittees are responsible for organizing informational presentations, working with staff members, and guiding policy initiatives. The teams are comprised of mayors from 8-12 cities and meet monthly to discuss issues and policy platforms.

The Caucus is currently staffed by Civic Results, a Denver-based 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. Civic Results provides policy and administrative support, as well as facilitation services and strategic advice.

Consensus and Decision Making

The Metro Mayors Caucus foundation is based on consensus decision-making, as it ensures that every mayor has an equal voice and that any policy position reflects the ideas and solutions of the entire group. The caucus was originally established so that policy recommendations would not move forward without full consensus; if any Mayor objected, the caucus would not sponsor the policy proposal. With an increase of caucus membership, the MMC has changed its decision-making format to a limited consensus. If five or more Mayors have strong opposition to a proposal and no compromise can be reached, the Caucus takes no position on the issue. The Metro Mayors Caucus consensus process is shown as an image above.

Agenda Setting

The Metro Mayors Caucus selects issues to focus on each year at the annual retreat. Many issues remain on the priority list year after year. Problem areas usually cross jurisdictional boundaries and are manageable in both scope and ability of the Caucus to influence the issue. Issue areas include water, growth, transportation, housing, energy, positions, intergovernmental agreements, and homelessness and hunger.

The impact of the Caucus’ work in addressing regional economic development and multi-jurisdictional issues in unprecedented. In previous years, the Caucus built consensus and supported the land acquirement and development of the Denver Convention Center, the Coors Field for the Colorado Rockies, and the Denver International Airport as a tool for economic stimulus.

Costs

The Caucus is primarily funded by member dues, which are assessed at a rate of $0.08 per capita. Supplementary Caucus funding is provided through a variety of sources, including outside sponsorship of special events such as the annual retreat or legislative reception. Staff fundraising has accounted for just under 20% of the total revenues and has resulted in the creation of a modest 3-month Operating Reserve.

Impact

The Caucus, built on a foundation of communication, collaboration, and consensus, serves a number of functions for its members:

  • Provides opportunities for enhancing personal relationships and building trust.

  • Develops and adopts positions and advances strategies on key issues facing the metro area and advocates for their adoption by other levels of government.

  • Monitors local, regional, state, and federal action on key policy issues to keep members abreast of issues that affect their municipalities and the region.

  • Serves as a voice for collaborative approaches to regional challenges.

  • Acts as a sounding board for private, non-profit and public sector representatives seeking to implement change.

  • Offers a non-competitive forum for the resolution of differences among metro area jurisdictions.

Close to Home

Through the work of the Close to Home Campaign, and the efforts of many other committed individuals, groups, and organizations, we want very few individuals in metro Denver to experience homelessness, even fewer to be chronically homeless, and for all people to be able to live with dignity and hope.

The Metro Mayors Caucus is a partner in Close to Home Colorado, a statewide campaign to raise public awareness about homelessness and shed light on the true face of this growing social crisis.

In collaboration with community stakeholders, the Close to Home campaign established three goals:

  • Mobilize metro Denver residents to address underlying cause of homelessness.

  • Increase understanding so that metro Denver residents experiencing homelessness are viewed by others, and regard themselves, as valuable members of our communities.

  • Make homelessness a priority issue in metro Denver.

The Metro Mayors Caucus Homeless and Hunger Committee is responsible for developing and recommending new policies and activities aimed at eliminating homelessness and hunger. Short-term goals and activities set forth by the Homelessness Committee was adopted by the Caucus in October 2014 (see image above).

The figures in this case study displayed above represent informational ads from the Close to Home campaign. Members of the Homelessness Committee serve on the Close to Home Development Team to support the creation of ads that address the common misperception of homeless families. The Metro Mayors Caucus contributes to developing the overall strategy to address homelessness in the Denver metropolitan region.

Lessons Learned

The Caucus encourages an environment of cooperation among mayoral members and other government agencies and levels, as a key strategy for addressing complex regional issues. To create a non-confrontational and non-competitive discussion of common problems and multi-jurisdictional challenges, participation in the Caucus is limited to Mayors.

The greatest challenge of the Metro Mayors Caucus is other municipal organizations. Most states have municipal leagues, nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations that provide services and resources to assist municipal officials in managing their governments and serving the cities and towns of Colorado. Occasionally, some Mayors question the benefit of paying to participate in the MMC when they are part of the Colorado Municipal League. The advantage of the MMC is that it creates a collaborative environment that nurtures strong relationships between jurisdictions.

Additional challenges result due to term limits and mayoral transitions. Successors are not always familiar with the MMC mission, and replacement can lead to a loss of leadership and involvement.



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