As a young reporter I covered State of the City moments a number of times. They’re not a detailed list of specific actions – certainly not six weeks into a term – but an outline, a sketch, a beginning – a vision. With that as the marker, Bruce Harrell’s initial SOTC did its job.
Our new mayor addressed the bickering of these last four years by naming his vision One Seattle, not that everyone agree but with a politics that listens – his AND approach, ie “The right number of officers AND the right kind of officers.”
He signaled the message from last November’s election, that the “status quo is unacceptable,” that going back to basics is where good governance begins. One specific in this address focused on depleted police staffing, with establishment of a Seattle-only focused class at the Police Academy to find the next generation of police officers – emphasizing choices “consistent with the values I expect to see.”
On homelessness, instead of 6 different outreach systems there will be one, with a dashboard to track progress, and a focus on addiction treatment as well as housing. That AND again — help the unsheltered AND restore parks and sidewalks.
There was also praise for every City Council member, even Sawant – a signal to move past the often bitter relations over the last mayoral term.
There ’s more — bringing city workers back to the office, confronting a budget shortage, ending the concrete strike stalling projects citywide, reviving small businesses, etc – but the theme going forward is clear. Change the narrative and actually bring results. It’s easy to say, more details, more specifics, but a State of the City talk is about painting a portrait. The test of a term is in the actuals.
So now, “show me”
“There ’s more — bringing city workers back to the office”
Is Harrell bringing them back because he didn’t like how something was being administered?
No – they’ve been working virtually, out of the office. Harrell’s take is that by mid-March it will be safe enough to bring them back to city offices, i.e. something like normal again.
I support Mayor Harrell and am trying to be hopeful. But I live in Belltown and daily lament the fact that walking to the downtown and the Market is not the pleasure it once was due to public safety issues. I eagerly await improvements.