In his breakfast keynote, State Senate President Steve Sweeney will outline his vision for addressing New Jersey’s transportation funding crisis, and the need for New Jersey to invest in its transportation infrastructure in order to remain economically competitive in a global economy. These investment needs include not just repairing roads and bridges, but upgrading and expanding our mass transit and rail freight systems and building a new Gateway Tunnel.
Stephen Sweeney decided to enter public life after his daughter Lauren was born with Down Syndrome. A union ironworker by trade and the current general vice president of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union, Sen. Sweeney has sponsored and supported measures to protect the rights of workers and support organized labor. Seeing firsthand the challenge of caring for a loved one without losing your job, he sponsored the state’s Paid Family Medical Leave Act. He has led the effort to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage and continues to champion fair and equitable wages.
Increasingly it is cities and towns, rather than states or countries, that are being asked to take the lead in developing and implementing policies on everything from climate adaptation to addressing housing inequality to upgrading infrastructure. Yet historically, these smaller jurisdictions are ill-equipped to meet this challenge. In his new book, Start-Up City: Inspiring Private and Public Entrepreneurship, Getting Projects Done, and Having Fun, Gabe Klein tackles head-on all the things that impede the public sector from acting more nimbly: the perennial under-staffing, the weight of bureaucracy, legacy systems and regulation, and the often-adversarial relationship with the private sector.
Gabe Klein is a relentless advocate for making the built environment better, and in his keynote he will discuss how, by following certain basic principles, individuals can be true change agents, the private and public sectors can align their motives and goals around a shared vision for the future, and rapid change and disruption can be harnessed to make these places more livable, resilient and fun.