Friends, thank you so much for coming out. I'd especially like to thank my family, and my wife Kelli.
In just a few short weeks, I will begin the final year of my first term as Kokomo's mayor. Now, I know you're all expecting me to stand up here and recount the accomplishments of my administration over the past three years; to rattle off a list of facts and figures, of promises fulfilled.
I'm not going to do that. It isn't because I'm not proud of all we've done. Far from it. I am extremely proud of all we have done. We have accomplished extraordinary things with increasingly limited resources. But today is not a day to look back. Today is a day to look forward.
That is why I am proud to officially announce my candidacy for re-election as Mayor of this great City. I am truly humbled by the opportunity already given to me, and I look forward to laying out the case for another four years as your mayor.
To our young people, and to our families:
I want you to know that my administration is working, every day, to improve quality of life in our community. Over the past three years, we have invested heavily in our City's infrastructure; not just in concrete, asphalt and brick, but in walkways, greenspace, entertainment venues and parks and recreation. If we don't invest in our own community, no one else will.
Next year, among other projects, we will add six miles of new bike lanes to our City, and continue to improve our City's gateways. All of this is aimed at creating a community where our workers will want to live. We must leave behind the days when Hamilton County residents drive to Kokomo for work, and Kokomo residents drive to Hamilton County for arts, recreation and entertainment. This must, instead, by a City where workers want to live, and where young men and women want to locate after college.
To our workers:
All of these projects – and, for that matter, everything we do – is aimed at increased jobs and opportunities in our community. To attract new business and new investment, we must cater not only to the business itself, but to their workforce.
That means creating a higher quality-of-life. That means providing adequate public transportation. That means focusing on education. All of these things will help diversify our economy. But, more than that, they are the right thing to do. Even if they didn't contribute to economic development; even if they didn't spur investment and create new jobs, they would still benefit the people of Kokomo, and still create a stronger community for you and for your children.
To our City employees and department heads:
Thank you for your work and your sacrifice. I know it hasn't been easy, and I am truly grateful to those employees and department heads who have stuck it out through the good and the bad.
We've been through a lot together. We've had a lot of mud thrown our way through the national media; particularly Forbes magazine, which named Kokomo one of America's fastest-dying cities. But you knew better. You didn't get angry, or quit. Instead, you did what you always do: kept your head down, worked hard, and proved Forbes Magazine -- and all the naysayers -- wrong.
To those I have not yet won over:
I welcome your comments, and your criticisms. I don't have all the answers, and if you have an idea for moving our community forward, we want to hear it. All I ask in return is that you keep an open mind, and that you be willing to roll up your sleeves and get involved.
To those I will never win over – to those who want to turn back the clock of progress, or keep our community frozen in time:
All I can say is, I welcome the debate. Thankfully, you are in the minority. Most of our citizens know what needs to be done, and are willing – even eager – to work together and get it done.
And, fair warning: We will never choose short-term politics over long-term progress. So if you want to play political games, all I can say is: have fun with that. The rest of us will be busy actually getting things done.
To all our citizens:
Thank you, again, for the opportunity to serve as your mayor. It is my firm belief that a community is judged by its quality of life. And by that standard, we are a far stronger City than we were three short years ago.
But we aren't done! This isn't the end. This is the beginning. In my first State of the City address three years ago, I said that change is a process and not an event. And I say today that we are still at the beginning of that process. The beginning of our transformation into a city fueled by innovation, by education and by high expectations. The beginning of a new and unheralded chapter in the history of our community. The beginning of Kokomo's next great renaissance.
So thank you for being here. Thank you for being a part of it. Thank you for all your hard work, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Thank you. And God bless.