WASHINGTON, D.C.– Mayor Best of Branson recently attended a meeting at the White House in honor of “Mayor’s Day: A Conversation with the President.”
In the meeting, Mayor Best supported J-1 exchanges and explained how the programs add value to American communities and businesses.
Attendees included 70 mayors and key members of the Administration, including President Trump and Vice President Pence. The visit was profiled in a recent edition of Branson Tri-Lakes News; an excerpt from the article is included below.
With the rest of the Branson Board of Aldermen set to meet for their regular meeting Tuesday evening, Mayor Karen Best was in Washington, D.C., getting set to address the White House.
“I received an invitation last Thursday to attend the Mayors’ Day: A Conversation with the President, to be held at the White House,” Best said. “That was scheduled for Wednesday at 3 p.m.”
According to Best, she was one of 70 mayors who attended Wednesday’s event and the second who was able to address the room, which included President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and representatives and directors from other departments.
“My question was geared towards jobs and workers,” Best said. “Finding the workforce to fill those jobs. President Trump is very adamant about buy American hire American and I would love to give Americans the first jobs, but we don’t have a great pool of people who want to work at a lot of minimum wage jobs.”
Best said she told those in attendance the importance of the J-1 Visa program in Branson. Authorized by the U.S. State Department, J-1 allows individuals to travel to the United States for temporary work and study-based exchange programs.
“I shared with them the importance of the J-1 program to us during the summer and that it brings 700-plus workers for us to fill those jobs,” she said. “Therefore, we’re able to keep going as a tourist destination.”
With questions of immigration at the forefront of national conversation, Best said she received good feedback from other mayors on her question and hopes the Trump administration considers the information and how programs like J-1 help communities.
“It has been such an issue at the national level, and I’m not sure which direction they’re going to go,” Best said. “I think they understand the impact it has on communities, and there were several mayors after it was over that thanked me for bringing it to the forefront, because they were having the same issues as well.”
…“It was my great honor to welcome Mayors from across America to the WH,” Trump wrote on Twitter following the event. “My Administration will always support local government – and listen to the leaders who know their communities best.”
…Overall, Best said she’s hopeful the experience allowed Branson to become a part of the national conversation.
“Being at the White House yesterday gave a name and a face to the community of Branson,” Best said. “A chance to present our needs at the federal level, so when it comes time to make those choices and award the money, hopefully our name, face and community is in the front of their minds because they just met with us.”