State Watch

Colorado governor says state, local officials key to federal COVID response

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) said Tuesday that politicians staying in tune with the needs of their constituents' communities is a key to effectively tackling issues like the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While the federal government with the pandemic is playing a coordinating role, it's really on the ground in states and in cities where it's playing out," Polis said at The Hill's "Listening to America" event.

He told The Hill's Steve Clemons that the voices of local officials need to be elevated in Washington at this time because state and local governments play a substantial role in fighting the pandemic.

Polis, who served in Congress for 10 years before being elected governor in 2018, highlighted how smaller governments are responsible for organizing vaccination clinics, increasing medical capacity and implementing social distancing.

But he said Colorado, like many parts of the country, has "great divides" within the state. To help bridge that gap, he said, elected officials need to interact with constituents more.

"It's really the professional responsibility of our elected officials to do that, even have those hard conversations, however unpleasant they are, trying to understand, listen and try to find some middle ground to pull us back together as a country," he said at Tuesday's event, hosted in partnership with the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) echoed some of those remarks by saying city and state officials need to have "boots on the ground" to gain firsthand knowledge of the varied problems constituents are dealing with and how to best help them.

"It's by focusing again on where the needs are the greatest, and when you know your communities, when you know your constituency, you should be able to tailor those responses."

Cantrell said that when the coronavirus pandemic struck, her office already knew where major disparity gaps existed throughout the city, allowing officials to work on the ground to mobilize testing sites in those communities.

Outbrain