During his recent State of the City Address, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took a break from describing the collective trauma and rising economic and public health devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic to ask city residents a question: “When we do return, who do we want to be?”
The crisis, he said, had exposed the deep cracks in his city and all across the country — disparities in economic opportunity, health care, housing, and education that have only been exacerbated by the Coronavirus — and trying to return to the “normal” of a few months ago was no longer acceptable.
“The real question — the real test — is how we will come back,” Mayor Garcetti said. “Not just our initial response and recovery, but our commitment to each other and to long term change.”
On the other side of the country, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the founder of Schmidt Futures, will lead a 15-member commission to “reimagine how our state can build back better.” The Governor also enlisted the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to convene experts to consider what education should look like in the future.
A growing number of leaders from across the political spectrum are seeing the same opportunity — a chance to not just meet the immediate needs of residents suffering from mass layoffs, illness or hunger, but to develop, test and implement bold evidence-based solutions to accelerate our economic recovery and advance economic mobility over the long-term, especially for our most vulnerable residents.
With the right support and encouragement, these results-driven leaders can help us reshape government to make smarter decisions and better investments, and help America build back better than before.