Mayor Heartwell’s final State of the City: praise and challenges for Grand Rapids
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -With less than a year remaining in his term, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, gave his final State of the City address Saturday.
2015 is his 12th year as mayor, after serving eight years as a city commissioner. Despite recent voter decisions for elected city officials to face term limits, Mayor Heartwell received a standing ovation at the 2015 State of the City address.
The Mayor reflected on things that matter most, touching on equity for all people and praising the city for overcoming many obstacles during his 23 years in office.
“2014, lowest murder rates we’ve ever seen in Grand Rapids in our recorded history,” said Mayor Heartwell.
Although Grand Rapids is on the up-and-up, the mayor plans on using his last year in office tackling what he believes to be the root of the city’s problems.
“Well, I think the challenge here is clearly around both social equity issues and environmental issues,” said Mayor Heartwell.
These are issues he calls the, ‘triple bottom line,’ which includes social equity, economic opportunities, and environmental protection.
Hannah Fernando, a Grand Vally Student, was invited to present 10 recommendations created from one of her classes, focusing on growth and retention of students within the city. But she said that’s only the beginning.
“There’s a lot more work that needs to be done obviously and I think the State of the City shines some light on that,” said Fernando. “And that’s what this whole speech comes down to in the end. I think Mayor Heartwell said that it starts with us, and as cheesy as that sounds it is a matter up to the individual.”
The mayor intends on using this year to accomplish as much as possible but says that many of these projects will take years to complete.