The countdown is on! In a matter of days, on Feb. 24, I will provide the annual State of the City Address, an annual tradition outlined in our City Charter as a time for the mayor to inform the city of their programs, objectives, and priorities for the year ahead.
This month marks one year of writing these editorials for The Raincross Gazette and my second State of the City Address as mayor. To commemorate these two milestones, I would like to share with you an exclusive sneak peek of what to expect from my address later this month.
Bookended by my personal story, how opportunity drove my parents to settle in post-war Riverside, and feedback from residents of how Riverside should prepare for the future, there is a focus in the address on the smalltown feel that Riverside gives so many of us.
At its core, this address is dual parts report card and blueprint for the future. I will reflect on the past year, focusing on the work and successes my team and I have accomplished — supported by data metrics that gauge our efforts.
In addition to the sprinkling of personal stories and a look back on 2021, the address is broken into the three signature themes of my administration: Reimagining the River, Revitalizing our Downtown, and Reinventing our Economy through Industry, Innovation and Arts. These three are all couched within the overarching focus of ensuring a livable Riverside. The signature themes become tangible when we see them in city initiates that are making an impact.
The first challenge I will address head-on is homelessness. There is no more denying that we have a mental health and addiction crisis in our state that is perpetuating cycles of homelessness. Those that are not able to take care of themselves, due to various mental and behavioral challenges, are the most difficult populations to help due to existing laws and individual resistance. We have resources like no other time in our history to help those who are able and willing to accept help, but increased funding will not be enough to help those suffering from mental illness in our community. We need new laws and tools. In my address I will share what I am doing, with the help of my colleagues in California’s 13 largest cities, to make these new laws and tools a reality.
Beyond the focus on homelessness, this year’s State of the City Address will also speak to the historic amount of private investment in our downtown. I will deliver the address from the Main Library which is a physical manifestation of the progress being made downtown — in tandem with The Cheech, the Civil Rights Institute, and scores of new housing units, such as the long-anticipated reuse of the historic Stalder Building into our newest, upcoming mixed-use project, The Mark.
The address concludes with the aspect of public service in which I am most passionate and what I hope all leaders are deeply concerned about: bridging the division in our society. Promoting unity, decreasing division, and working across the aisle to govern should be the foundation of everything we do. Our country, our democracy, even our city is threatened by divisions—another crisis we cannot ignore. I will share about the advisory group I formed, known as the Mayor’s Bipartisan Forum, which brings right-leaning and left-leaning political ideologies into one room to find common ground and seek out legislative changes.
All the other topics and initiatives covered in the address will be saved until the big night! I urge you to review RiversideCA.gov/SOTC to find all the ways to watch the State of the City. After the address, please share your feedback with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. What spoke to you? What gives you hope for our tomorrow in Riverside? And what should we do to better prepare for Riverside’s future?