Jun 23, 2015, 07:18 ET
SAN FRANCISCO, June 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) this week recognized Charleston (SC) Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. with its highest honor, The Distinguished Public Service Award, during its 83rd Annual meeting in San Francisco, CA in recognition of his extraordinary political tenure and unwavering commitment to the organization. However, because of a tragic multiple shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on Wednesday, June 17, Mayor Riley could not be in San Francisco to receive the award in person.
Mayor Riley, who has chosen not to seek re-election, was first elected in December 1975 and is now serving an unprecedented 10th term as Mayor of Charleston. He served as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors from 1986 to 1987.
In his 40 years as Charleston's mayor, he has transformed the city into a national and international destination for tourism, arts, culture and design. He has led a city government with an impressive record of innovation in public safety, housing, children's issues, and economic revitalization and development. Today, the City of Charleston is recognized as one of the most livable and progressive cities in the United States.
At the national level, Mayor Riley has shared his vision and expertise with more than 1,000 mayors through the Mayors' Institute on City Design, which he founded through a partnership between The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Endowment for the Arts.
"It's no exaggeration to say that Mayor Riley's work has dramatically improved the physical, cultural and social fabric of all cities across our nation," said Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, CA and President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors when the award was issued. "He has been a guiding force within our organization and has provided invaluable counsel and encouragement to so many current and former mayors. For this reason, he is widely acknowledged as the 'DEAN of America's mayors.'"
"Mayor Joe Riley's innate political astuteness makes him one of the best politicians in our nation's history. The years of his stewardship, 1975 to 2015 for his beloved city of Charleston were tumultuous years for our mayors and our nation. He was our guiding star through the best and the worst times," said Tom Cochran, USCM CEO and Executive Director. "His idea to create Mayors Institute on City Design coupled with his active participation and support has transformed mayors to lead the way – implementing MICD recommendations, which today protects the public realm and makes our cities more human for the millions of our people who live, work and play in our cities – large, medium and small. Joe Riley's legacy is alive. We look forward to his continued support and guidance in the years ahead."
During USCM's meeting in San Francisco, a video honoring Mayor Riley was shown. To view the video, please see this link: http://usmayors.org/83rdAnnualMeeting/. (Go to Archived Videos, June 21, 2015; video begins at the 27:00 minute mark)
Mayor Riley called into the Mayors' meeting on Monday as he was en route to the South Carolina state capital to urge officials to remove the Confederate flag from its premises.
"I am sorry I couldn't be with all of you today, but as mayors, we understand that our jobs call on us to respond to our community challenges and make sure our communities are safe," said Mayor Riley. "It is an honor to receive this award. USCM meetings are learning sessions and informal conversations and I have always benefitted from them. I hope to attend the Winter Meeting this January to thank the Conference in person."
Mayor Riley was born in Charleston in 1943. He graduated from the Citadel in 1964, and the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1967. Mayor Riley was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1968 where he served for six years. He currently serves on the USCM's Executive Committee, and is well-known among his colleagues for his unique style of storytelling, his unwavering ability to strike the right note with a pithy quote, and his southern charm.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/usmayors, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/usmayors.
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SOURCE The U.S. Conference of Mayors
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