It’ll be interesting to see how the Mayor approaches the talk – will he dive deep into wonky policy detail? I’m guessing no, he’ll keep it short and sweet, focused at a high level on a few key outcomes, including more workforce housing and better K-12 education. Good stuff that we all agree with, too.
But here’s the thing – what is the real state of the City? What’s the state of the region? What are the opportunities and challenges that we OUGHT to be discussing? Let me toss out a few and we’ll see if the new Mayor hits them tonight:
Too many people don’t trust City government. How will our elected officials, and City staff, re-establish trust with those who feel truly unheard and unappreciated? This is a very difficult issue, but one that fueled Strimling’s election as Mayor. If he addresses it tonight in detail – by saying something more than “I am still listening” – he’ll score big points.
Finally there’s the question of where Portland ends and the region begins. Whether we’re talking more affordable housing, or better transit, or excellent schools or greater economic growth, we are talking about regional problems which demand regional solutions. I’ll be listening for the Mayor to tell us how he plans on including all the communities in our region in the solutions to the biggest challenges facing us. Portland cannot go it alone in any of these areas – and all the surrounding communities are similarly tied to Portland’s future. If Strimling has a detailed plan for bringing the region together you’ll hear me cheering in the back of City Hall tonight.
State of the City speeches can be as dry as unbuttered toast, full of mind-numbing policy details. Or they can be airy cheerleading with no substance. They can be 12 minutes of high minded thoughts and hopeful encouragement… or they can be the rare moment when the City’s elected leader looks the hard stuff square in the eye and says “Here’s how we are going to get this done.”
The Portland Community Chamber of Commerce endorsed Ethan Strimling for Mayor last fall and I am seriously hoping that tonight, he gives us the best State of the City address we’ve heard in a generation.
Go get ‘em Ethan!