U.S. Conference of Mayors Kicks Off in Dallas

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    More than 200 U.S. mayors are gathering in Dallas for a four-day conference beginning Friday. (Published Friday, June 20, 2014)

    More than 200 U.S. mayors are gathering in Dallas for a four-day conference beginning Friday.

    The 82nd U.S. Conference of Mayors began early Friday morning with yoga, a light workout and breakfast on Dallas' Continental Avenue Bridge.

    200 Mayors Kick Off Conference Atop Dallas Bridge

    [DFW] 200 Mayors Kick Off Conference Atop Dallas Bridge
    More than 200 U.S. mayors hit the streets of Dallas early Friday morning to kick off the four-day U.S. Conference of Mayors. (Published Friday, June 20, 2014)

    The bridge is a pedestrian walkway and park that opened to the public on June 15.  The workout and breakfast, aside from launching he conference, raised money to benefit the Mayor's Youth Fitness Initiative.

    "What a beautiful place to workout at 6:30 in the morning. You see the sun come up over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the skyline, and the trail right by the Trinity. Wow, this is the place to workout," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

    “This is just totally phenominal as far as I’m concerned. And how they integrated it, the mayor and his staff, with physical fitness, and catch that sunrise from this perspective,” said Mayor Mario Avery, of Fairburn, Georgia, commenting on the conference kick-off on the Continental Avenue Bridge.

    Over the next four days, mayors from cities large and small will discuss the economic health of the nation's cities, transportation, education, housing, assistance to returning veterans and the minimum wage.

    “My desire is to find out how much more I can do to take economic development back to the small town of North Wilkesboro in North Carolina,” said Mayor Robert Johnson.

    This year marks the first time since 1966 that the city has hosted the annual conference.

    "It's a real honor. It really says that Dallas is on the map in a major way in this nation. Not only are they coming, I think they're all pleasantly surprised. They come off the plane, they see our skyline, the see the growth, they see the cleanliness of the city and they are very proud for us about it, so it's exciting," said Rawlings.

    The conference will feature several guest speakers, including Maria Shriver speaking on women living near poverty.

    A session on sports, race and politics in America will include retired NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sacramento Kings' owner Vivek Ranadive and several mayors including Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player and president of the conference.

    “The beauty of this weekend is we get to see another city and learn from the successes that Mayor Rawlings has had here in Dallas,” said the former Mayor or Miami and President of USCM, Manny Diaz.

    The mayors will also vote on policy resolutions and send to Washington in hopes of shaping federal legislation.

    NBC 5's Ellen Bryan contributed to this report.