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The nation's mayors have departed, but Mayor Palmer DePaulis said his colleagues took with them a newfound appreciation for Salt Lake City.

"This has been magic," DePaulis said, after hosting 170 of his national colleagues at the 56th annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a meeting highlighted by the appearances of two Democratic presidential hopefuls, Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson.DePaulis said the conference had been invaluable in improving the city's image. He said he received compliments about the city's livability, its cleanliness, its arts and culture and its majestic setting.

Mayor Arthur Holland, of Trenton, N.J., was sworn in as president of the non-partisan mayors organization and held a press conference Wednesday to pledge his efforts to institute a "new federalism." He stressed that despite political differences, most Republican and Democratic mayors see eye-to-eye on urban issues.

Holland also referred to Salt Lake City's image.

"We've had a great time in Salt Lake City," Holland joked. "In coming to Salt Lake City, there is not an editorial writer in the country that suggested this could possibly be a junket."

Holland said mayors need to play an active role in shaping national policy during the next six months, by keeping urban issues at the forefront of the presidential campaign and pressing them during the new administration.

The war against drugs and AIDS, improving public transportation and housing programs and providing for the homeless are the major issues facing every mayor city in the country. Holland said all the issues are important but said the threat of drugs, especially crack, is such an overwhelming problem to the nation's cities that all other issues fall far behind.

The organization's annual conference, representing cities with populations of 30,000 or more, drew more than 170 mayors from 40 states. The timing of this convention was especially crucial to mayors pressing to bring urban issues to the forefront of the presidential campaign. Dukakis and Jackson obliged the mayors by making appearances and tailoring their speeches to city issues. Vice President George Bush sent a letter instead because of scheduling conflicts.

Houston Mayor Kathryn Whitmire was elected conference vice president and will take over Holland's gavel after next June's convention in Charleston, S.C.

"The partnership between cities and the federal government makes all things possible," Holland said. "True partnership between the cities and the federal government strength-ens both. That is our message."

While Bush's absence was noted and appeared particularly apparent due to the appearances by Jackson and Dukakis, Holland said the Republican presidential candidate has plenty of time to make amends in the campaign. "Boy, if I were Bush, I would want to be here. And if I wasn't here, I would try to be as many places as I can, talking to mayors."

DePaulis said his colleagues shared sympathies with him over Salt Lake City's problems, such as his fights with the City Council and the city's police union, and said they were experiencing similar financial problems.

DePaulis referred to the informational pickets that mayors walked through to attend the conference, where off-duty Salt Lake police officers were joined by officers from New Orleans and Quincy, Mass. "And some mayors were gracious enough to bring their own," DePaulis said.

Earlier Wednesday, DeKalb, Ill., Mayor Greg Sparrow said dependable public transportation is an essential right for city residents and will help solve environmental concerns. "It's simple arithmetic. Buses and trains, cars and van pools take cars off the road. And when you take cars off the road, you clean up the air."

Mayors must work together to support funding for transportation, as it is caught dead in the sights of those who believe the federal budget can be balanced by cutting domestic spending, Sparrow said.