When asked what cities they looked to for policy ideas, U.S. mayors mentioned New York, Boston, and Austin, more than any other cities, a Boston University Initiative on Cities survey found.
The survey included responses from 68 mayors, including 18 of cities with at least 30,000 residents. It found the mayors rely on information from other mayors and cities more than any other source, other than their staff. When asked what three cities they looked to for policy and management ideas, New York and Boston tied for the most mentions, followed by Austin, Denver, Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
The survey also split mayors were according to the size of their city. Large city mayors (cities with more than 300,000 residents) tended to focus on other large cities, while small cities sought ideas from a variety of different-sized cities. New York was a top contender for both categories, but small city mayors were also interested in places like Anchorage, Alaska, Medford, Ore., and Scottsdale, Ariz. (notice the long list of cities mentioned less than 10 percent of the time under the small cities chart).
“These differences at least suggest that mayors take policy context into account when deciding which other cities to look at,” the study read. “[T]hey also show that there are no cities that are broadly and disproportionately influential on mayors’ policy ideas.”
Responses were also split by the party affiliation of mayors. Democratic responses outnumbered Republican ones, unsurprising since cities often tend to be more liberal. As the study pointed out, Republicans most cited cities were Austin and Portland, “suggesting that Republican mayors do not simply look to other right-leaning cities.”
The survey also asked mayors for a specific example of a policy they adapted from another city. Of the 45 responses they received, the only topics to be mentioned twice were bicycling policies, out-of-school programs, and rooftop parks and gardens. All other examples were mentioned only once. Responses were shortened and edited to protect the anonymity of mayors, the study said.