NEW YORK, June 22 (Reuters) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who came into office six months ago promising to take on economic inequality in the nation's largest city, is now enlisting other big-city mayors to join in the fight.
De Blasio and the mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson, announced the creation of a year-long task force to "leverage the power of municipal governments to advance a national, common equity agenda" at the U.S. Conference of Mayors' annual meeting in Dallas on Sunday.
"We are living in a time of rising inequality and declining opportunity - this is a threat to our fundamental values and an obstacle to the nation's economic growth," de Blasio said in a statement. "Cities are the problem solvers and the centers of innovation. As mayors, we are on the front lines."
Johnson said that goals would includes higher minimum wages, expanding the supply of affordable housing and ensuring every child has access to pre-kindergarten programs.
The mayors of Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston all expressed support for the idea.
"The gap between those of means and those that are not as fortunate will only be closed with new, long-term non-partisan and pragmatic solutions," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in the statement.
The idea that the nation's mayors can be a potent political force was shared by de Blasio's predecessor at New York City Hall, Michael Bloomberg, who founded the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns to push for expended background checks for gun purchases and other forms of stricter gun control.
The group, which launched in 2006, was largely funded out of Bloomberg's personal fortune. (Reporting By Edith Honan; Editing by Nick Zieminski)