The state of Richmond is strong and growing stronger - that's the message from Mayor Dwight Jones in his annual "State of the City" address Tuesday night.
Jones spoke to about a hundred people downtown at CenterStage. No huge groundbreaking proposals were announced, but Jones is shifting his perspective from "building a better Richmond," as we've heard him say over the last four years, to "building the best Richmond," in the year to come.
"We are building the best Richmond, because that is what you deserve, that is what I deserve, that is what our children deserve," said Jones.
How to get to that "best" Richmond is the focus, building on the successes Mayor Jones believes he's accomplished in the last four years. He is the first mayor under this form of government to have a second term in office, and he's set some lofty goals.
"It's time for us to redefine what 'possible' means. I want you to join me tonight in reinventing 'possible,'" said Jones.
Jones says the city can't reinvent "possible" without addressing the needs of its poorest citizens. He discussed poverty mitigation efforts, like improving transportation, revamping city housing projects, revitalizing neighborhoods, bringing more companies and jobs to the city and closing a funding gap for education.
"Richmond schools need to receive funding based on the city's poverty level. It compromises the very future of our city when we are measured as though we are as affluent as Chesterfield and Henrico," said Jones.
One topic that was not widely covered, despite the presence of the city's police chief and officers, is a decrease in crime statistics for the city.
"I think it's always important to point those things out," said City Council President Charles Samuels. "I'm not a speech writer, so I can't really say what he should or shouldn't have touched on more, but I'll tell you what, it is on the minds of all of us on City Council."
The mayor hit on another hot button topic: baseball. He said the city is committed to building a new ballpark and keeping the Squirrels in the city. He did not, however, commit to a location, saying that decision will be based on financial analysis.
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