Now having been in the Mayor’s seat for six months, I’d like to mention a few of the noteworthy events that have taken place so far. Consider the following scenes:
Scene 1: On January 9, 2020, I took the Mayor’s oath to solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Washington, and all local ordinances, and that I will faithfully and impartially perform and discharge the duties of the office of Mayor according to the law and the best of my ability.
As Longview’s 23rd Mayor, I want to affirm to you that I take that charge seriously and am grateful for the opportunity to serve our community in the office that I hold. After all the unusual events that have commenced in 2020 (and dare there be more), I am doing my best to uphold that oath. I was elected to represent you, and I do all I can in my power and authority to weigh public policies and facilitate community action that furthers a consistent respect for our city code and for our state and federal constitutions. I continue to work tirelessly for our community each day, and I offer my time to citizens through calls, emails, and regular office hours (temporarily squelched by Covid-19) and have pledged to be transparent, impartial and accessible to the Council and citizens of the City.
Scene 2: Enter the Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its disease COVID-19. Signing the proclamation for the Incident Management Team of Cowlitz County to disseminate official information and direction to our citizens was a bold and necessary step for each of the Mayors of all five cities in Cowlitz County. Doing so has allowed each city a seat at the table to participate in the Governor’s Four-Step Phasing, and the choice personally to participate by governing our actions with the measures that will protect the citizens (social distancing, facial coverings, modified work). This will help us achieve our ultimate goal of reaching Phase 4, where businesses can function near/full capacity and citizens can get back to regular daily schedules and enjoying all our freedoms. Our eagerness as a city to progress quicker has created quite the stir - so much so that at the time of this letter, Cowlitz County is “stuck” in Phase 2 with consideration of a “partial” Phase 3 for the next three weeks. To be continued…
Scene 3: Deep-seeded hatred, blatant bias and racism have no place in our hearts or in our city. Come on folks, it’s 2020! I am absolutely a proponent of free speech – including expressions of peaceful protest; but deliberate lawlessness? NO! Looting, desecration of property and disregard for the law do not solve problems but rather create them. Supporting our police force and their tremendous bravery in taking on their difficult roles each day is a privilege. Trusting in our local officers and acknowledging their efforts on our behalf is critical to the morale of the department – and the community.
We have some work to do…
Scene 4: The Cowlitz County homeless population residing at Alabama Street has grown and continues to grow. It was the intention of the City Manager to close the camp for cleaning on March 30, 2020, but with Covid-19 on the scene, it would have been an irresponsible move. The Cowlitz County Ad-Hoc Siting Committee met multiple times to discuss new sites only to find that not one site was acceptable to the public or met the criteria of the committee and ultimately, to my disappointment, the committee was disbanded. To be continued…
- The City Council, the City Manager and the City Staff have been busy! Project completions and building permits continue despite Covid-19. The Beech Street Business Park is underway. Soon there will be a brand-new section of street with 46 acres to accommodate 14 new businesses in Longview. Notwithstanding the difficult constraints placed on our community from State and local authorities through an abundance of caution to protect us all from the Covid-19 pandemic, Longview will rise responsibly out of this challenge and will be OPEN for business!
- Our Revolving Loan Fund committee has recommended changes for entrepreneurs, including no loan fees, no application or administrative fees, low interest at favorable rates and a payment deferral.
- A much-anticipated traffic signal improvement project is underway now in downtown Longview.
- Through a successful grant acquisition, additional ADA requested improvements will be installed for 16 sidewalk ramps along 30th Avenue, and 46th Avenue will receive brand new resurfacing and improvements.
- Council approved and instituted a new committee - the Complete Streets Advisory Committee - which allows assisting and advising city staff on best practices for complete streets for all varieties of active transportation in Longview.
- Through our Community Development Block Grants, HOME grants and DOC recording fees, Council allocated close to $500k in funds for service agencies within our community and assisted in the utility rate reduction for nearly 300 seniors in our community.
Please be encouraged, friends. The City is in good hands and we are working hard on your behalf. Covid-19 will not prevail! Please be safe, wise and find ways to uplift and encourage one another. Be kind to each other. We are all worth it!
Blessings until next time,