Among this year’s contingent at the 2021 Kansas Congressional Fly-In were some familiar faces – with Derby Mayor Randy White and City Council President Nick Engle making up two of the three local government representatives (of a group of 50) selected to take part in the event organized by the Kansas Chamber and Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.
For three days from Sept. 27 to 29, Engle and White were shown around Washington, D.C., met with Kansas’ congressmen and senators, and heard presentations on a number of key issues – from international trade to energy regulations.
Both Engle and White viewed the trip as an opportunity to form strong working partnerships with the federal delegation and gain insight for local governmental efforts.
“It’s been several years since Derby has participated in this event. I feel it is important that local leaders get the opportunity to see what is going on at a national level. This will give us some perspective as we plan for the future,” White said. “My takeaway is our county is going to change dramatically if all these spending plans are passed. We need to continue to look for funding opportunities for our wastewater and water treatment facilities.”
“My main goal was to build relationships with our delegates and business leaders in our area. Improving lines of communication with other leaders in our state and our connections to Washington, D.C. helps us improve our chances of working together as a team when tackling goals or issues,” Engle said. “While many of the matters we handle on the City Council are locally focused, there are other matters that are tied in with local, regional, state-wide and even national concerns. The more allies we have, the better we’re able to help one another for the benefit of all citizens.”
The Kansas contingent heard updates from the Congressional floor – including discussion of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, vaccine mandates and more – the Federal Reserve and reports on ongoing employment and other logistical issues faced across the country.
Given all that was going on, White noted it was an “interesting” week, hearing about the action on a number of critical bills currently on the floor.
While Engle stated it’s easy to “get caught in our own bubble,” he said he appreciated learning of the similarity in challenges faced – no matter the level of government. Additionally, he said he was glad to have the collaborative forum to learn from other government officials to help potentially shape responses to local issues in the future.
“Some of the challenges that we face locally are the same challenges that people face elsewhere. You never know when you’ll be able share ideas and pool resources to make good things happen,” Engle said. “I believe that everything we do revolves around people. The more we can connect and the more we can learn, the better we can serve.”
“The primary goals of these trips are to allow business professionals the opportunity to hear from groups and individuals involved directly in the federal decision-making process,” White said. “As a local leader, I feel we need to understand the impact of these policies and do our best to plan for Derby’s future. I enjoyed getting the opportunity to meet with so many influential people and look forward to using what we learned.”