DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Mayor Bill Bazzi has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, making the city one of three Michigan-based cities represented on the board.
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a binational coalition of elected officials that works to protect and restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin and comprises more than 245 mayors — including those from Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec.
The organization works to strengthen the economic and environmental health of communities by protecting the lakes and rivers and focuses on building infrastructure to protect from flooding and erosion, assuring water equity so all residents have access to clean and affordable water, and building a blue economy by helping transform communities to attract industries from the green economy.
Bazzi’s role on the board will include development of socioeconomic and environmental policies; the direction of the organization’s strategic vision; representing the membership and building relationships with the federal governments of the U.S. and Canada, governors of several states in the region and members of the Parliament of Canada; organizing budgets, by-laws and approval of special programs and policies and representing members when speaking to the press.
Bazzi said he has several goals while on the board.
“I want to work to assure water equity,” he said. “Water is becoming the most important commodity on our planet. We have been blessed to be in a region that has 80 percent of North America’s freshwater. However, there are many communities that struggle to provide their residents with water that is clean, affordable and accessible. Lead lines are still in place throughout our region, which impacts the health of our children, and we must strive to remove them. Infrastructure is also crumbling around us, impacting our own Dearborn Heights with flooding issues and infrastructure that must be attended to.”
Bazzi said he also wants to focus on economic growth.
“There are so many opportunities for economic growth when it comes to green technology and living in a region surrounded by fresh water,” he said. “I want to assure that communities like Dearborn Heights get their share of the investments and benefit from the job growth that will be coming as we reduce our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. I also want to attract industries to our region that need access to clean and affordable fresh water. I want to help lead the effort of getting companies with green technology offerings, or requirements to access large amounts of fresh water to make their products, to build their operations here.”
In this role, Bazzi will have to attend all board meetings, mid-year meetings and annual meeting; participate with organizational commissions, including the Mayor’s Commission on Water Equity, the Mayor’s Commission on Resilient Coastal Project Initiatives and the Mayor’s Commission on the Blue Economy; make visits to D.C. and Ottawa to meet with officials who impact policy and approve annual budgets and three-year strategic plans.
Bazzi said that growth is important and he is excited for this opportunity.
“The world is changing, and we need to change with it,” he said. “Whether you believe that climate change is occurring or not, the environment around us is changing. Our own community is being impacted by more frequent flooding and severe storms, the likes of which we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. I want to assure that my residents are equipped to handle these changes. We also need to equip our region to grow economically as our society changes to renewable energy sources and cleaner technologies. As a local leader, I believe it’s my responsibility to lay the groundwork for these changes in our economy. I want to attract these jobs to Dearborn Heights so that our community will prosper. I also want to make sure that our infrastructure is built to take advantage of these economic trends. I’m excited to work with regional leaders from across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin, on a non-partisan basis, to create change and help our region prosper. By collaborating with other mayors with like interests and needs, I will be better equipped to impact change.”