2017 Menino Survey of Mayors

On January 23, 2018, the Boston University Initiative on Cities released its fourth annual Menino Survey of Mayors, the only scientifically valid and representative survey of American mayors. The 2017 Menino Survey was built on interviews with 115 mayors from 39 states, and was funded by Citi Community Development and The Rockefeller Foundation.

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Initiated in June 2014 and named in honor of the Initiative’s late Co-Founder Mayor Tom Menino, the project was designed to gain insight into the priorities and challenges facing America’s mayors. A team of Boston University researchers, including Katherine Levine Einstein, David Glick, and Maxwell Palmer, all Assistant Professors of Political Science, Katharine Lusk, the Executive Director of the Initiative on Cities, and Conor LeBlanc, a past member of the IOC team, interviewed mayors one-on-one throughout the summer of 2017.

Researchers spoke with mayors about a range of topics including affordable housing, climate change, city-to-city networks, and data-driven decision-making. The findings from this year’s Survey indicate that mayors from both “red” and “blue” states share many of the same priorities and concerns. More than half of surveyed mayors, on both side of the aisle, cited housing affordability as the most common reason people move out of their city, and two thirds of surveyed mayors agreed that cities should take action on climate change even if doing so required financial cost. Mayors are concerned about their relationships with their state and federal governments but, generally, value city-to-city policy networks as tools to signal priorities and influence national and global issues.

View the full report via the following link:

Menino Survey of Mayors 2017

A key findings document highlighting the major themes of the Menino Survey can be accessed here:

Key Findings of Menino Survey of Mayors 2017


  • November 7, 2019 – Route Fifty: To influence local politics, showing up to vote isn’t enough – New research focused on the political muscle of elderly voters shows that non-voting activities like community organizing and participating in advisory councils—and not just showing up at the polls—is crucial in setting the local government agenda.
  • July 12, 2018 – Deseret News: More evidence the Salt Lake area is becoming like the Bay Area A Menino Survey of 115 mayors by Boston University last year found 51 percent identifying rising housing costs as the main reason people choose to move from their cities. But 35 percent also said zoning and development issues are the biggest factors affecting their approval ratings. Which brings us back to a familiar theme.
  • March 11, 2018 – Governing: White residents have better access to city services, mayors say in new surveyMayors recognize that their white residents have better access to a wide range of public services than their residents of color, according to a new survey. The National League of Cities and the Boston University Initiative on Cities surveyed 115 mayors about their views on racial inequities. They released a two-page brief of major findings at a South by Southwest panel in Austin.
  • March 6, 2018 – The Chicago Tribune: As the Trump administration retreats on climate change, US cities are moving forward Despite almost universal scientific consensus that climate change poses a growing threat, President Donald Trump ‘s recent infrastructure plan makes no mention of the need to build resilience to rising global temperatures.
  • March 3, 2018 – The Seattle Times: Digging into the foundation of the housing cost crisis – Affordability in Seattle and elsewhere is a complicated problem, but it has one major driver that has nothing to do with housing.
  • February 27, 2018 – Vox: Why federalism is hard – The word federalism used to make liberals raise their eyebrows in suspicion and skepticism. States’ poorly funded welfare programs, paralyzing debt, and resistance to guidance from the federal government were enough reasons to make federalism, as principle of government, something from which progressives would keep their distance.
  • February 23, 2018 – The Lowell Sun: Lowell Property Taxes Heading One Way: Up – A survey of 115 mayors from 39 states conducted last year by Boston University’s Initiative on Cities found that housing affordability was one of the primary problems facing cities. More than half the mayors surveyed said that housing costs were the primary reason residents were leaving their communities.
  • January 31, 2018 – City Lab: Density’s Next Frontier: The Suburbs America’s mayors named housing, and housing affordability, as the number-one problem facing their cities. This concern was not only voiced by mayors of expensive, coastal cities, but in diverse communities across the nation.
  • January 24, 2018 – Next City: Dem and GOP Mayors Agree: States Must Stop Preempting Local Laws In a year marked by fires, hurricanes, drastic temperatures and $306 billion in climate-related damages, two-thirds of U.S. mayors believe that cities should take action on climate change, even if their efforts will cost them.
  • January 24, 2018 – WBUR: Among U.S. Mayors, There’s Widespread Concern About Housing Costs, a New Survey Finds Mayors across the United States say that housing costs are the biggest reason that people are moving away from cities, according to a new survey released Tuesday.
  • January 24, 2018 – Newsweek: Why are People Leaving Cities? It’s certainly not just an issue in pricey Greater Boston. A new nationwide survey of mayors finds that half believe the cost of housing is among the top three reasons people move out of their cities.
  • January 24, 2018 – Albanian Times: Mayors Tackle Climate Change Issue Mayors tackle climate change issue as it is increasingly becoming a crucial factor so much that the advocate strategies that could be an impediment for the residents and may even harm the cities economically.
  • January 24, 2018 – Real Clear Politics: Will Cities Save Our Democracy? With dysfunction all too common in our national politics — marked by party-line votes, partisan rancor, and, of course, government shutdowns occurring with nauseating regularity — hope may lie closer to home.
  • January 24, 2018 – BU Today: Leaders of US Cities Worried About Lack of Affordable Housing If you want to get mayors of US cities talking, says BU political scientist David Glick, ask them about affordable housing. Republicans and Democrats alike, mayors of big coastal cities and medium-size Midwestern towns “are all worried about it,” says Glick, a researcher with the University’s Initiative on Cities.
  • January 23, 2018 – Renewable Energy Magazine: Big City Mayors in U.S. Rank Climate Change Among Their Most Pressing Concerns A growing number of mayors across the United States believe attenuating the effects of climate change is among their top priorities, but a deep partisan divide remains on the question of whether human activities worsen the problem, a new survey finds.
  • January 23, 2018 – Business Wire: New Menino Survey of Mayors, from Boston University Initiative on Cities, Reveals Housing Affordability and Climate Change as Top Issues for Mayors Mayors nationwide, from cities large and small, agree that housing availability and affordability are their most pressing concerns and the top reasons why people are moving away from their cities.
  • January 23, 2018 – Route Fifty: The Leading Challenge Many U.S. Mayors Say Their Cities are FacingHousing affordability and access is a top concern for mayors throughout the U.S., according to newly published survey results.
  • January 23, 2018 – The Washington Post: New Survey of Mayors Shows Most are Concerned About Lack of Affordable Housing More than half of the mayors who responded to the annual Menino Survey of Mayors said that high housing costs are the main reason that people are moving out of their cities, the leading cause above concerns about jobs, schools and public safety.
  • January 23, 2018 – The Associated Press: Survey: Mayors View Climate Change as Pressing Urban Issue – U.S. mayors increasingly view climate change as a pressing urban issue, so much so that many advocate policies that could inconvenience residents or even hurt their cities financially.