SACRAMENTO – A Central Valley mayor is the new president of the League of California Cities for the 2023-24 term, strengthening the voice of small communities in the state.
Daniel Parra, who is currently the Fowler mayor and the Orange Cove interim city manager, took on the role of president of the League of California Cities (Cal Cities) Board of Directors at the conclusion of the Cal Cities Annual Conference and Expo in Sacramento on Sept. 22.
“It is an honor to serve as president for Cal Cities during its 125th year of advocacy and education on behalf of California cities,” Parra said in a press release. “I’m eager to help lead California cities in fostering diverse, inclusive and equitable communities that cater to the needs of all Californians.”
Parra has been on the Fowler City Council since 2008 and was “instrumental in the revitalization of Fowler’s downtown through the use of redevelopment funds,” according to a Cal Cities press release. He is also a United States Air Force veteran and is involved in the Fowler Lion’s Club and the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus.
“Daniel is a strong and experienced leader, and I have seen firsthand his dedication to Cal Cities,” said Carolyn Coleman, League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO, in a press release.
Parra has been a member of the Cal Cities board of directors executive committee for the last two years, and moved up from the position of first vice president following the league’s standard practices. He has also been the state director for the South San Joaquin Valley Division, the chair of the Transportation, Communications and Public Works Policy Committee and is a past president of the Cal Cities Latino Caucus, according to a Cal Cities press release.
As president, Parra will act as a voice and face for the league, facilitate the quarterly board meetings and work to achieve the league’s goals for the year. In the press release, Coleman said Parra will “spearhead our unified efforts at safeguarding local government and advocating for the issues that are most important to California cities.”
Dinuba City Councilor Kuldip Thusu also represents the Valley as a League of California Cities Board of Directors member. Going into his third year as the director for the South San Joaquin Valley Division, Thusu is also the chair of the Revenue and Taxation Committee and the second vice president of the New Mayors and Council Members Academy.
Thusu said he is a Cal Cities member to ensure that the needs of small communities in the Central Valley are well represented.
“The challenges that Dinuba faces, (that) all the Central Valley cities face … are different from the challenges that the Bay Area faces,” Thusu said. “That’s why having Mr. Parra as a president is a landmark moment.”
Within Cal Cities, Thusu focuses on finding ways to articulate the challenges that are unique to Dinuba and the surrounding communities while also relating to the challenges that other cities around the state face. He said that he works on carefully articulating his logic so that others understand where he is coming from on certain issues.
Addressing the challenges many different types of cities have takes “critical thinking and creative problem solving in a collective fashion,” which he does by exchanging ideas and experiences with other league members, Thusu said.
Thusu said he is blessed and privileged to be able to participate in the league and that it is his “duty to have the knowledge, the intellectual capacity and the humility to carry (our) message and represent our (Dinuba’s) people.”
The League of California Cities is a publicly funded nonprofit organization composed of 476 member cities across the state. Staff and elected officials from the member cities participate in the league through regional divisions, municipal departments and diversity caucuses to represent the interests of their city.
Cal Cities provides resources to city staff and elected officials and lobbies the state legislature over issues of local control. According to its website, its mission is to “expand and protect local control for cities through education and advocacy to enhance the quality of life for all Californians.”
The league’s board of directors is composed of at-large members, elected members of its executive committee and representatives from its regional divisions, municipal departments and diversity caucuses. The mayors of the state’s 10 largest cities also hold director positions on the board.
The executive committee members rotate between the positions of second vice president, first vice president, president and immediate past president, making it so only one person — the second vice president — is voted in each year as the rest cycle through each position.
The second vice president applies to the position and is chosen each year by a nominating committee made up of board members and approved by the entire board of directors.
Each division, department and caucus selects its own director from its member cities and the at-large members are chosen by the nominating committee and approved by the rest of the board of directors.