Springfield’s new mayor, Ken McClure, was mostly positive as he gave his first State of the City address Thursday morning at Parkview High School.
He acknowledged Springfield police officers as he said “they have our backs, and we have theirs as well.” And he praised the work of the Springfield Fire Department.
According to McClure, public Safety will be City Council’s top priority over the next few months and years.
He said they want to “encourage a systemic approach as best as we can to address the totality of public safety to include substance abuse, mental health, the courts, public defenders, the jail, staffing, funding and all the related components that go with that," McClure said. "We will need to focus on what our next steps will be. We will want to be more proactive and to enforce all existing laws."
Other top priorities of the City Council over the next few years, he said, will be economic vitality, fiscal sustainability and enhanced legislative engagement.
McClure said “great cities are built upon innovation, creativity, courage and the power of good people who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and work.” And he said Springfield has a good foundation on which to build a future.
According to McClure, the city needs to connect people with available jobs and to address the skills gap that prevents some from getting good-paying jobs. And he said work is being done towards that.
"I applaud Mary Ann Rojas, the director of the Workforce Development team and her team there and at the Ozarks Technical Community College who worked together to obtain a $3 million America's Promise grant that we refer to as Ozarks Promise. That grant was from the United States Department of Labor, and it was intended to provide tuition-free training and certifications in health-related occupations for 372 individuals over the next four years," said McClure.
According to McClure, the city must provide people with what they need to earn a living. And he said programs like the Wheels to Work Initiative and job training services provided by the Missouri Job Center are a good start.
"But they are only a start," he said. "They are not the entire solution, but they are steps in the right direction."
According to McClure, while city government alone can’t address all of Springfield’s problems, it can use its capacity to convene and its ability to work together “across all sorts of boundaries to make life better for everyone.”
To watch the 2017 State of the City Address, click here.