Mayor Jones says Richmond needs courage

Posted at 3:08 PM, Jan 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-12 15:09:17-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The following are remarks made by Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones at his Second Inaugural Address on January 13, 2013.

The mayor’s office provided this transcript:

Thank you so much for being here with me today. I want to start by first saying what an honor and a privilege it has been to serve as Richmond’s Mayor for the past four years. And I’m extremely humbled to have been elected to serve an additional four years in this office.

Thank you for the confidence you have shown in me and my administration.

When we started this journey in 2009, we talked about new beginnings. People told me they were anxious to be part of a city that was moving forward together in harmony, and as your Mayor, I have sought to build a better Richmond over the last four years.

I remember at the time reflecting on the Crupi report ,which says so many things about Richmond; but one thing in particular it said was that Richmond wants to be great but that Richmond is afraid to be great…afraid to take the risk associated with greatness. I said at that time that I wanted you to know that I am a risk taker and that if we are going to be great, it was my position that we would have to try to do new things and be willing to take the risk associated with being a great city. I believe I have held true to what was said.

Even though we started this journey during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, we pursued opportunities to improve our city and to strengthen its future.  We forged ahead in spite of the times and we’ve been willing to take the risk. Today, I know we are on the right path to our shared destiny.

As your Mayor, I have sought to build a better Richmond and I take pride in what we have accomplished.

I’m going to give a State of the City address in a few weeks, and at that time I will talk more directly about where we are headed. But I’ve got to take a moment today to say, just look at what we’ve accomplished together!

There are four new schools being built in our city. Two have opened just a few weeks ago and have only a few remaining touches to be made. We are building our city’s first new high school in forty years—the new Huguenot High School.  Overall, we’ve invested over $200 million in new school construction.

We have aggressively pursued new economic development opportunities, while retaining and adding thousands of jobs in the city. Our bond ratings have been upgraded five separate times during the past four years…upgrades that will ultimately save taxpayers millions of dollars. We also found ways to save additional double-digit millions through our tax collection practices and we’ve taken on overdue projects like building a new city jail and closed the history book on outstanding matters like the debt owed the city by the RMA.

We have advanced a Riverfront Development plan to take advantage of the James as a unifying asset for our city with greater access for all citizens.  And we are working on a systematic plan to reduce poverty rates while transforming public housing.  We advanced a comprehensive plan to revitalize public housing, including the redevelopment of Dove Court, and we are laying the framework to de-concentrate poverty by transforming Richmond’s public housing projects.

For decades, no one has taken an organized approach to this number one issue, and what we’ve done is focus on this issue knowing that the answer lies in our economic development strategies and neighborhood revitalization plans. So we’ve been deliberative and have successfully pursued major economic development opportunities for the city.  We’ve said we weren’t going to tax our way out of tough times, but rather we were going to work to grow our way out.

We’ve got the Landmark Theatre renovation going on; have secured the Washington Redskins’ summer training camp for a period of eight years; acquired the historic slave burial ground and began improvements; established the city’s first Arts District and Façade Improvement Program for redevelopment of the Arts District Corridor; and we have a new Black History Museum location at Leigh Street Armory that will be developed.  We’ve accelerated the ongoing revitalization efforts in Shockoe Bottom and these are all things that will increase our tourism capital. Our city is also preparing to entertain a global audience of 300 million people who will all be focused on Richmond and our regional because of a bid that we went after and won to host the UCI 2015 Road World Cycling Championships.

Our strategies are designed to expand our tax base and broaden opportunity for all.  During our first time, we also worked to achieve unprecedented Minority Business Enterprise participation levels on city projects.

Much has been accomplished, yet more needs to be done.

What we have before us now is an opportunity to continue with this important work for the future of our city. We all have a stake in the city’s future.  We all have a stake in the prosperity of our city.

Now clearly city government continues to face challenges. We have many improvements we need to make and we are making them.  We will continue to improve. I’ve known from the beginning that we are involved in a marathon, not a sprint. And that fact is what makes this opportunity to continue to serve as your Mayor even more meaningful.

Our mantra has been, “Building a Better Richmond” and I’ve decided that I’m keeping that mantra going forward. But I am making a slight adjustment to that mantra for this second term. We are “Building the Best Richmond.” We are building the best Richmond because that is what we deserve.

The way I see it, we’ve already been called the Best Town Ever!…an accomplishment we achieved last year with a designation by Outdoor Magazine.  And that designation was rightly attached to our quality of life, the recreational opportunities and access to outdoors.

But I say we can be the best on all levels; especially if we work together.

Now I may ask you to step out of your comfort zone from time to time; to take the risk with me when the right opportunities present themselves. But what I want you to know is that while we will take chances for our city, we will only take those risks that are smart risk.

We’ve got to have courage to move the city forward.

Our best days are ahead ladies and gentlemen. I believe the stars are all aligned in our favor and we are poised to do great things.

We have a tremendous opportunity and I know that I can count on you to work with me to continue the job we’ve started.  Thank you again for the confidence you’ve shown in me.  I look forward to working with you this term.