Political Notebook

Ashley Swearengin takes center stage at U.S. Conference of Mayors

Fresno, Calif., Mayor Ashley Swearengin, center, flanked by Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James, left, and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, joined White House press secretary Josh Earnest during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, to discuss a variety of topics affecting U.S. cities. President Barack Obama is hosting a reception for the nation’s mayors at the White House later today. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Fresno, Calif., Mayor Ashley Swearengin, center, flanked by Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James, left, and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, joined White House press secretary Josh Earnest during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, to discuss a variety of topics affecting U.S. cities. President Barack Obama is hosting a reception for the nation’s mayors at the White House later today. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) AP

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican, was one of three attending this week’s U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual winter conference chosen to brief reporters at the White House on Thursday afternoon.

“Our partnership with the Obama administration has been pivotal in helping Fresno reverse the course of many decades of decline and to chart a new future for our city,” Swearengin said.

Flanked by the Democratic mayors of Boston and Kansas City, Mo., Swearengin touted high-speed rail, downtown revitalization and economic development – all work, she said, that has been helped by an administration that many in her party routinely decry.

Even on water, a sore point for California’s congressional Republicans, the Fresno mayor, who in 2014 lost a race for state controller, praised the Obama team’s focus.

Swearengin is one of three San Joaquin Valley mayors attending the conference, joining Turlock’s Gary Soiseth and Modesto’s Garrad Marsh.

As is traditional, the mayors’ 84th winter conference included speeches by senators and Cabinet officials and a field trip Thursday to the White House for a presidential talk and reception. At the host Capital Hilton hotel, booths sponsored by the likes of Uber and Airbnb lured distracted passers-by.

For Marsh, the three-day conference that ends Friday was a chance to talk about issues such as securing federal aid for expanding the Altamont Commuter Express rail service and finding ways to help the homeless.

“We learned that the easiest funding to go after is funding for veterans who are homeless,” said Marsh, himself a veteran of the Navy’s submarine service.

Michael Doyle: 202-383-0006, @MichaelDoyle10

Lesley Clark: 202-383-6054, @lesleyclark

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