2016 is my final year as Mayor of this great city. It has been my honor and privilege to serve. This is a wonderful community and I am proud to be part of it. I look forward to the year ahead.
City life is always active and ongoing. There’s a constant flow of challenges and opportunities. All are important and some are daunting. All affect the lives of those who live here. They matter.
In these last 11 years, Eugene was impacted by the deepest recession this nation has perhaps ever known. In the face of this national crisis, Eugene not only survived, but continued to move forward. We tightened our belts, made do with fewer resources and held fast to our commitment to do our best with what we had. We had a great responsibility that we did our utmost to live up to.
When you think about it, a lot of remarkable things occurred.
- An empty downtown was brought to life. It now boasts over $300 million in investment.
- A failing road infrastructure was mended - more road repair than ever in the history of Eugene.
- An ailing economy was energized and focused to give our region new direction in technology, advanced manufacturing and food. The “tech” industry alone now includes over 400 companies, 5,000 workers and $350 million in annual wages. This is great news.
- Access to our libraries was expanded and improvements were made to our trail system.
- Our transit system was nationally recognized as one of the best in the nation as we continued to add new segments to the system.
- The most ambitious Climate Recovery Ordinance in the nation was passed.
- Eugene’s paid sick leave ordinance led to the adoption of a statewide policy to protect our hard working families.
- Affordable housing was built for those in need and innovative solutions such as rest stops and dusk –to-dawn legal camping spots are helping us address the critical shortage of low-cost, transitional and emergency shelter. We worked to house all our homeless vets in 2015 through the Operation 365 initiative.
We celebrate our achievements and recognize issues that we have yet to resolve. These are tough issues - around funding of affordable housing and the use of tax incentives; density and livability, and improved sharing of our public spaces.
Tough issues should continue to be seen as challenges we can meet when we work together. None of the successes could have occurred without public support, partnerships, and the efforts of our staff and council. As we have found consistently over the last 11 years, we are Better Together!