Mayor Andrew’s at the Ventura Chamber’s State of the City breakfast. Photo by Dan Holmes
At both the State of the City presentation made during a City Council meeting and the Ventura Chamber State of the City breakfast on March 29, at the Crowne Plaza, Mayor Neal Andrews delivered a powerful and up-lifting outlook for Ventura.
This are highlights of his presentation.
“Now, as you all are aware, a fateful event occurred on the evening of December 4, 2017. As much as I might have wished, it was not my election as Mayor of our terrific city. Having been elected Mayor, I was in the process of making a few remarks, mostly thanking my colleagues for their confidence when I looked up to see virtually everyone in the room walking out. As you might imagine, I guess my mouth may have dropped open a bit, but I quickly finished the few necessary remarks and invited those few remaining to join us for some cookies and lemonade.”
“Someone mentioned then that there was a fire out in a small canyon in Santa Paula and that our executives and other key staff had gone to open the EOC as a precaution. There didn’t seem like there was much reason at that point to hang around City Hall, so I wandered out to the parking lot. As I did so, I saw every light in the city go out, and the generators at City Hall powered up. In that instant I knew that we faced some sort of a crisis. We were about to experience the terrible wrath of the Thomas Fire.”
“There were three other seminal events that occurred in 2017. In addition to the fire, the voters had approved Measure O, they had adopted a fundamental change to election of the City Council by districts, and the City Manager had announced his retirement.”
“Each of these events had a major meaning for 2018.”
“However, despite the challenges these implied, the City had had a pretty good year in 2017 and was set to begin 2018 with strength and optimism.”
“Now let me turn the presentation over to the executive staff to fill you in on some of the details of what they had achieved until then and some of their efforts since. I hope you will appreciate how strong we are and how strong we will continue to be. “
“We’ve talked about the challenges that were the legacy of 2017 – the Thomas Fire of course, the hope that new revenue from Measure O will help meet long pressing needs, the impact on our traditional electoral system of the change to district elections, and the vital task of finding a new city manager will meet the needs and expectations of our citizens.”
“There is one over-riding implication in all of these that I want to emphasize. They will demand time and attention from our Council and city leadership and they will draw heavily on the time, talent and resources of the city as a whole. “
“Finally every new mayor has goals and aspirations, and I want to share some of mine with you. The first of mine is to try to strengthen and build upon our sense of community. I’m going to be doing my very best to reach out to build bonds among our friends. We have for years suffered strains across our community. It’s time to pull together, to show one another the mutual care and concern that is the characteristic of a healthy society. “
“We also need to focus on building prosperity within our community. Our restaurants and retail stores are beset on all sides by big chain operations with much larger marketing budgets and immense buying power. While it’s helpful to encourage folks to buy local goods and services, we need to join together in support of our business community. We need to find ways to help them compete, to bring more traffic to their stores, and to supplement their marketing investments. Over the longer term we need to radically increase our local investment in supportive technology and broad band. “
“Lastly, we need to open our eyes to opportunities inherent in the long-term future our community. We are no longer a quaint little beach town. We haven’t been for decades. We are a city of over 100,000 people. We are among the 10% of the largest cities in California. “
“To realize the promise that we are being offered as we progress into the future, we need to take steps now to restore the vital connection between the bulk of the city and the oceanfront. That single step, while it will take decades to achieve, is the single greatest contribution this generation can make to the future of our city and the benefit of our children and grandchildren. Please join me as I try to lead us in these new directions. Thank you and may God help us take the first few steps. It is as much as I can hope to do realistically in my brief time as your Mayor. “
“Ventura Strong! You can keep it so!! “