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Special District Leaders Meet Congress, Advocate on National Priorities

By Cole Arreola-Karr posted 04-21-2023 02:28 PM


The nation’s special district stakeholders descended on Washington this week for the 2023 National Special Districts Coalition (NSDC) “Special Districts on the Hill” to press for support on top Coalition priorities.

Leaders and stakeholders from across Coalition states met with 36 offices of the U.S. House and Senate to promote awareness of special districts as part of the country’s local government landscape. In doing so, the group of 12 advocated for the establishment of a “special district” definition in federal law and broader inclusion in federally-funded local government programs. NSDC also focused on ongoing efforts to address community gaps in adequate water infrastructure for firefighting.

“Special districts are woven into the fabric of the nation’s critical infrastructure and essential services that enhance millions of Americans’ quality of life,” said Cole Arreola-Karr, NSDC Federal Advocacy Director. “The nation’s special district leaders advanced key issues and continued building bipartisan congressional support and awareness. The Coalition’s voice was – and continues to be – heard, and we are excited for the next phases of our advocacy.”

NSDC’s advocates met with members of their state Congressional delegations to represent and share more about the services special districts provide to their constituents and frame the importance of special districts’ access to federally-funded programs for local government – and the hardship that stems from inability to tap into funding opportunities. Also highlighted were the steps special districts providing fire protection and water services are taking to harden fire suppression infrastructure in their communities and the necessity for a federal funding source to assist with this critical need.

The Coalition thanks congressional staff for their active engagement with Coalition stakeholders, and thank Representatives John Duarte, R-Calif.; Val Hoyle, D-Ore.; Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla.; Kevin Kiley, R-Calif.; Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.; Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.; and Brittany Pettersen, D-Colo., for meeting with Coalition Members. The Coalition was also able to meet with Tahoe Water for Fire Suppression Coalition representatives, who were also in Washington advocating on water infrastructure for firefighting funding.

The April fly-in was the second for NSDC, having made its initial introductions on Capitol Hill in September 2022. The Ferguson Group (TFG) and Paragon Government Relations coordinated the event.

For more information on how to get involved with NSDC’s federal advocacy, contact Cole Arreola-Karr, at

NSDC Members on Capitol Hill, 2023
NSDC's western state representatives on Capitol Hill for the April 2023 Fly-In. 
Pictured left to right: Kyle Packham, California Sepcial Districts Association (CSDA) Advocacy and Public Affairs Director; Ryan Clausnitzer, CSDA President & Alameda County Mosqutio Abatement District General Manager; Ann Terry, Special Districts Association (SDA) of Colorado Executive Director; Neil McCormick, CSDA Chief Executive Officer; David Ulbircht, Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO) Director of Advisory Services; Frank Stratton, SDAO Executive Director; Michael Valdez, SDA of Colorado Policy Director; Allison Ullmer, SDA of Colorado Executive Vice President; Heather Anderson, Utah Association of Special Districts Government Affairs Director.

Eastern Team, 2023
NSDC's eastern state representatives on Capitol Hill for the April 2023 Fly-In. 
Pictured left to right: Joe Krahn, Paragon Government Relations President; Chief David Cambereri, Florida Association of Special Districts (FASD) Legislative Committee Chair and San Carlos Park Fire Protection and Rescue Service District; Chief Michael Chaote, FASD Legislative Committee Memeber and Immokalee Fire Control District; Jonathan Roach, Roach & Associates PLCC and North Channel Regional Water Authority (Texas) Board Member.