HOLLY BRINDA, MPA
December 27, 2011
THANK YOU ALL – SO VERY MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO BE HERE DURING THIS VERY BUSY HOLIDAY SEASON. I KNOW YOU COULD HAVE MADE OTHER CHOICES. JUDGE DAVID BASINSKI, AND REVEREND CHRISTINA KUKUK AND REVEREND DIXIE SMITH, I AM HONORED BY YOUR PRESENCE. PLEASE KNOW, I AM HUMBLED BY THE CONFIDENCE YOU HAVE ALL PLACED IN ME, AND I AM ENERGIZED BY YOUR ATTENDANCE AND BY THE GREAT POTENTIAL WE ALL SEE FOR ELYRIA’S FUTURE. TODAY IS ABOUT NEW BEGINNINGS. IT’S ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER TO TRANSFORM OUR HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS INTO ACTIONS THAT CREATE A COMMUNITY OF OPPORTUNITY ONCE AGAIN – FOR ALL OF OUR CITIZENS.
BUT BEFORE WE TALK ABOUT WHAT LIES AHEAD, I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE A MOMENT TO THANK SOME VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE WHO HELPED GET US TO THIS CRITICAL POINT. FIRST, I WOULD LIKE TO THANK MAYOR WILLIAM GRACE AND HIS OUTGOING ADMINISTRATION FOR THEIR LEADERSHIP AND SERVICE TO OUR CITY. AMONG YOUR MANY ACCOMPLISHMENTS, YOU PLANTED THE SEED OF PRIDE ONCE AGAIN, REMINDING US THAT HOW WE LOOK DOES MATTER. TO OUR CURRENT AND OUTGOING COUNCIL MEMBERS, THANK YOU FOR KEEPING ELYRIA’S SHIP AFLOAT DURING SOME OF THE MOST TURBULENT ECONOMIC TIMES IN OUR NATION’S RECENT HISTORY.
TO MY ELECTION COMMITTEE, TREASURER AND TODAY’S MISTRESS OF CEREMONY EVELYN FRANCE AND OTHERS WHO SUPPORTED ME, YOUR PERSEVERANCE AND VISION FOR A BETTER ELYRIA HAS DELIVERED US. AND TO MY FAMILY, WHO ARE HERE TODAY, I EXTEND MY LOVE AND MOST SINCERE GRATITUDE FOR THE SUPPORT AND SACRIFICES YOU HAVE MADE, AND WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE, FOR THE BETTERMENT OF OUR COMMUNITY. TO MY HUSBAND GREG, YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT AND STRONG BELIEF THAT I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE HAVE SUSTAINED ME. TO MY PARENTS, MY MOTHER GLORIA WHO IS HERE TODAY AND MY FATHER HERE IN SPIRIT, YOU TAUGHT ME TO RESPECT ALL PEOPLE, WORK HARD, ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY, AND CONTRIBUTE TO MY COMMUNITY. TO MY CHILDREN, MATTHEW, NICHOLAS, MARIELLE AND RACHEL – YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS ARE TESTIMONY TO THE RESOURCES AND CARING PEOPLE OF OUR GREAT CITY THAT HELPED RAISE YOU, EDUCATE YOU, MENTOR YOU, AND MOLD YOU INTO THE PROFESSIONALS, KIND AND CARING PEOPLE, AND CONTRIBUTING CITIZENS YOU HAVE BECOME TODAY.
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO KNOW ME BEST, YOU KNOW ITS IN MY NATURE TO JUST LOW-KEY IT AND GET TO WORK – SORT OF THE FEMALE VERSION OF BOB NEWHART – A LITTLE DRY HUMOR WHEN NEEDED, BUT PRETTY MUCH, WELL, BORING…. SO WHEN THIS EVENING WAS FIRST BEING PLANNED I SUGGESTED A SMALL EVENT WITH PUNCH AND COOKIES. BUT MY COMMITTEE INSTANTLY REMINDED ME THAT THIS NIGHT IS NOT A SMALL OCCASION. IT’S ABOUT GIVING YOU A VOICE IN CITY GOVERNMENT. AND SO IT IS ONLY FITTING THAT WE CELEBRATE THIS MILESTONE AND NEW BEGINNING WITH A CELEBRATION SUPPORTED BY OUR YOUTH. THANK YOU TO THE ELYRIA HIGH SCHOOL ROTC STUDENTS, THE MADRIGALS AND THE FIDDLERS FOR SHOWCASING OUR CITY’S POTENTIAL AND OUR PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE, AND TO SODEXO FOR THE DESSERT RECEPTION THAT FOLLOWS.
AS I LOOK AROUND I’M REMINDED ABOUT WHAT MAKES OUR CITY GREAT – AND IT’S CLEARLY OUR PEOPLE. WE ARE TRULY A KALEIDOSCOPE OF WHITE, BLACK, BROWN, OLD, YOUNG, MIDDLE AGED, WHITE COLLAR, BLUE COLLAR, LIBERALS, CONSERVATIVES, RICH, POOR AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN. OUR DIVERSITY IS OUR GREATEST STRENGTH. AND WITH OPENED ARMS AND WARM HEARTS WE CONTINUE TO LEARN HOW TO UPLIFT EACH OTHER. BECAUSE IN ELYRIA, WE KNOW THAT THE QUALITY OF ALL OF OUR LIVES IS DEPENDENT ON THE QUALITY OF ALL OF OUR LIVES. VIRGINIA BURDEN ONCE SAID “COOPERATION IS THE THOROUGH CONVICTION THAT NOBODY GETS THERE UNLESS EVERYBODY GETS THERE.” SO MANY ELYRIANS ARE STRUGGLING. OUR WORKING POOR ARE HOLDING DOWN TWO AND THREE JOBS JUST TO MAKE ENDS MEET. SOME, DESPITE THEIR BEST EFFORTS, CANNOT FIND WORK AT ALL. AND YET IN THE MIDST OF DESPAIR, WE SEE THE RISE OF A NEW ELYRIA HIGH SCHOOL – ELYRIA’S SYMBOL OF HOPE FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN AND ALL OF OUR CITIZENS. EVEN WHEN IT MEANT MAKING A PERSONAL FINANCIAL SACRIFICE, WE SAID YES TO SUPPORTING OUR SCHOOLS BECAUSE WE KNOW IN OUR HEARTS THAT ONE OF THE WAYS TO A BETTER FUTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN AND OUR COMMUNITY IS PROVIDING A HIGH QUALITY EDUCATION. AND WITH OUR SCHOOLS’ STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT ON THE UPSWING AND A NEW HIGH SCHOOL, WE ARE BEGINNING THE CLIMB TO A BETTER FUTURE, BUT IT’S ONLY THE BEGINNING.
IF WE WANT TO BUILD A COMMUNITY OF OPPORTUNITY ONCE AGAIN IN ELYRIA, ITS GOING TO TAKE ALL OF US TO SUPPORT OUR CITY GOVERNMENT AS WELL. I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT ELYRIA’S FUTURE WILL BE SHAPED BY OUR CARING CITIZENS, NOT OUR POLITICIANS. “A CITY MUST BE A PLACE WHERE GROUPS OF MEN AND WOMEN ARE SEEKING AND DEVELOPING THE HIGHEST THINGS THEY KNOW,” SAID ANTHROPOLOGIST MARGARET MEAD. AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO. THAT’S HOW WE BUILT OUR NEW HIGH SCHOOL, AND THAT’S HOW WE WILL MOVE OUR CITY FORWARD. AS YOUR MAYOR I WILL REGULARLY SEEK AND WELCOME YOUR SUGGESTIONS AND IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE OF ELYRIA. OUR CITY’S SERVICES WILL BE MEASURED BY THE INVOLVEMENT AND SATISFACTION OF OUR CITIZENS, HOW WE VIEW THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN ELYRIA, AND A COMMUNITY SCORE CARD
THAT REPORTS OUR LEVEL OF PROGRESS ON COMMUNITY GOALS SET AND SUPPORTED BY YOU.
ELYRIA IS NO STRANGER TO OVERCOMING ADVERSITY. OUR PAST CAN HELP SHOW US THE WAY. BECAUSE IT DEMONSTRATES TO US HOW THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE US USED CHANGE AND ADVERSITY TO CREATE OPPORTUNITY. AS MR. GARFORD QUICKLY RECOGNIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HORSELESS CARRIAGE, OUT OF ELYRIA WAS BORN THE PADDED BICYCLE SEAT AND AN AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY. OUT OF OUR FATEFUL 1907
TROLLEY TRAGEDY CAME THE EASTER SEAL SOCIETY AND ELYRIA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL. AND MORE RECENTLY, WHEN THE STATE TOLD ELYRIA THERE WOULD BE NO MATCHING FUNDS FOR A HIGH SCHOOL PROJECT, YOUR BOARD OF EDUCATION REFUSED TO TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER – AND WITH THE ADMINISTRATION WORKED WITH LAWMAKERS TO CHANGE THE RULES, QUALIFYING ELYRIA FOR THE 38 PERCENT THAT HELPED CONVINCE VOTERS TO SUPPORT THE PROJECT. THE LIST COULD GO ON, BUT THE QUESTION IS THE SAME: HOW CAN WE FIND, A MORE IMPORTANTLY CREATE, MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR CHILDREN, YOUTH, SENIORS, FAMILIES, MINORITIES AND BUSINESSES?
IN THE CHINESE LANGUAGE YOU HAVE THE CHARACTER REPRESENTING CRISIS AND THE CHARACTER REPRESENTING CHANGE. WHEN THESE ARE COMBINED, YOU HAVE THE CHARACTER REPRESENTING OPPORTUNITY. NOW WHY IS THAT? BECAUSE WHEN CRISIS AND CHANGE MERGE YOU HAVE DISEQUILIBRIA. YOU HAVE CHANGING CONDITIONS. NEEDS AND CHALLENGES ARE CREATED AND IT IS THOSE WITH THE MOST CREATIVE, OPEN, ENTREPRENURIAL MIND SETS THAT WILL CREATE BENEFICIAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEMSELVES AND THOSE AROUND THEM.
SO I CHALLENGE EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM TO EMBRACE THE CURRENT FINANCIAL CRISIS AND WINDS OF CHANGE AND WORK WITH ME TO CREATE NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR ELYRIA AND ALL ELYRIANS. I MADE THE DECISION TO RUN FOR MAYOR, BECAUSE LIKE YOU, I KNOW WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHAPE OUR CITY’S BEST FUTURE. IN THESE MOST DIFFICULT ECONOMIC TIMES WE WILL EXPLORE NEW WAYS OF THINKING AND OPERATING. WE WILL BRING TO THE TABLE PEOPLE WHO HAVE OPEN MINDS AND THE SKILLS TO HELP US IDENTIFY AND EXAMINE THOSE THINGS WE HAVE TAKEN FOR GRANTED TO UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEMS WE FACE AND TO BEGIN TO IMAGINE AND CREATE NEW WAYS FORWARD.
MANY OF YOU WHO CAN HELP US ARE HERE TONIGHT. WE NEED YOU TO BE OUR PARTNERS AND TO ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN TWO-WAY DIALOGUE AND PLANNING SESSIONS TO HELP US PRESS THE RESET BUTTON. IF WE JUST TRY TO HANG ON, WE WILL CONTINUE MOVING BACKWARDS. I DON’T WANT TO BE THAT KIND OF MAYOR. AND IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE MY IDEA, IT JUST HAS TO BE THE BEST IDEA. IT CAN COME FROM ANYBODY WILLING TO WORK WITH US.
I’VE ASSEMBLED A HIGHLY EXPERIENCED MANAGEMENT AND SUPPORT TEAM THAT YOU’LL MEET TONIGHT THAT SHARES THIS PHILOSOPHY. SAFETY SERVICE DIRECTOR MARY SIWIERKA, FOCUS AREA PUBLIC SERVICE, ASSISTANT SAFETY SERVICE DIRECTOR DAN JAYKEL, FOCUS AREA PUBLIC SAFETY, AND ASSISTANT SAFETY SERVICE DIRECTOR AND ATTORNEY ELAYNE SIEGFRIED, FOCUS AREA HUMAN RESOURCES AND RISK MANAGEMENT. THEY WERE ALL CHOSEN BECAUSE OF THEIR EXPERTISE IN THEIR RESPECTIVE FIELDS OF SERVICE, SAFETY AND HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT, THEIR VAST KNOWLEDGE OF MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT, AND THEIR BELIEF THAT CITY GOVERNMENT IS TRULY HERE TO SERVE YOU, THE CITIZENS OF OUR COMMUNITY. COMBINED, THESE INDIVIDUALS
HAVE OVER 69 YEARS OF SUCCESSFUL MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE.
WE NEED TO WORK TOGETHER, TRUST EACH OTHER, EXAMINE BEST PRACTICES IN OTHER CITIES, REACH OUTSIDE OUR BORDERS FOR PARTNERS, COLLABORATE, COMMUNICATE, BE INCLUSIVE AND TAKE SOME CALCULATED, STRATEGIC RISKS TO BETTER POSITION ELYRIA FOR SUCCESS IN THE REGION.
ELYRIA DOESN’T HAVE A CHOICE. ECONOMIC FORCES ARE DEMANDING THAT WE RE-EXAMINE OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT APPROACH. AT PRESENT THE CITY HAS NO FORMAL APPROACH FOR JOB CREATION, RETENTION, EXPANSION OR ATTRACTION. I PLAN TO CHANGE THAT. REGIONS RATHER THAN CITIES ARE QUICKLY BECOMING THE DEFINING UNIT OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMY. THOSE REGIONS THAT ALIGN THEIR ASSETS TO COMPETE GLOBALLY ARE BETTER POSITIONED TO GROW JOBS, INCREASE INCOMES AND ATTRACT INVESTMENTS. TO COMPETE AT THAT LEVEL, ELYRIA MUST BETTER POSITION ITSELF IN THE REGION TO BECOME PART OF THE SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY. WE HAVE ASSETS THE REGION NEEDS: ACCESS TO HIGH QUALITY HIGHER EDUCATION AND ONGOING TRAINING, ADVANCED MANUFACTURING, HIGH QUALITY HEALTHCARE, VACANT INDUSTRIAL LAND, MAJOR HIGHWAYS, GREEN SPACE, LOCAL FOOD AND MORE.
WE NEED TO USE THESE ASSETS TO REINFORCE RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL, REGIONAL AND STATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS; ENCOURAGE THE DEVELOPMENT OF A COUNTY-WIDE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN; HELP NURTURE BUSINESS CLUSTERS IN STRATEGIC AREAS, USE THE CITY’S WEBSITE TO LINK COMPANIES
AND ENTREPRENEURS; CREATE A ONE-STOP-SHOP FOR BUSINESS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE INFORMATION ON FINANCING OPTIONS, REALESTATE OPPORTUNITIES, TAX INCENTIVE OPTIONS. AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT; PUBLICIZE OPPORTUNITIES TO POTENTIAL SUPPLIERS ; PROVIDE AN IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE THROUGH A PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP; FOSTER THE DEVELOPMENT OF MORE BUSINESS DISTRICTS; CONTINUE TO REFINE THE DESIGN REVIEW PROCESS AND MORE.
AND WHILE ITS IMPERATIVE THAT WE RESTORE OUR TAX BASE THROUGH AN ENHANCED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT APPROACH THAT GROWS GOOD PAYING JOBS, OUR FIRST PRIORITIES MUST ALSO BE:
• Restoring fiscal stability and responsibility through efficiency and effectiveness;
• Restoring public trust and support with open and responsive government;
• Improving public safety and reducing crime;
• Restoring our neighborhoods by addressing the issues of foreclosure and abandoned homes;
• Improving roads, storm and sewer systems and other infrastructure needs;
• Creating a safer, more vibrant downtown and Midway area;
• Creating health, wellness, learning and cultural opportunities for youth, families and senior citizens; and
• Revitalizing central/south Elyria.
TO ACCOMPLISH THESE GOALS, ELYRIANS CAN EXPECT TO SEE IN THE COMING MONTHS, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THE FOLLOWING STEPS BEING RECOMMENDED AND HOPEFULLY SUPPORTED BY ELYRIA CITY COUNCIL (for a full explanation go to www.brindaformayor.com):
• A city-wide Performance Audit by the State of Ohio Auditor’s Office that identifies areas of strength, areas of concern, and makes
recommendations to maximize efficiency and cost-savings based on best practices in like cities.
• The pursuit, identification and implementation of shared service strategies across city departments and municipal boundaries to
save money and improve service delivery, e.g. dispatch and law enforcement communications, IT infrastructure and services, group purchasing, alternative energy improvement districts, heavy equipment sharing, MetroParks support, and more.
• Adoption of Sunshine Review Transparency Legislation that encourages heightened public access to important city budgets, data,
legislation and other information via the city website, cable television, e-newsletters and other means.
• Updating of the City of Elyria 2015 Plan with additional public input to to resolve outstanding issues e.g. Cascade Park, neighborhood recreations centers, etc. and incorporate revised goals and strategies based on new leadership to be included in an annual Community Report Card.
• The convening of a Safety Summit and resulting City-Wide Safety Plan that brings a range of people and organizations together
that can influence decision making, implement change and work together to ensure safety (police, fire, health dept, emergency prosecutors offices, liquorcontrol, faith and nonprofit organizations, schools, neighborhood watch groups, transport operators, the courts, businesses, youth representatives and others.
• Creation of a county Land Bank in collaboration with Thriving Communities Institute, the City of Lorain and other surrounding
communities to better address vacant lots, tax delinquencies, abandoned homes, and the flipping of foreclosed properties – thus protecting the property values for Elyria citizens and creating economic development opportunities for the City.
• Formalizing and updating a Long-range Infrastructure Plan to be incorporated into a Capital improvement plan and Five-Year Forecast to help identify and prioritize based on need, available funds and opportunity cost.
• Take a more active role in designing for change over time to Midway and downtown areas. Develop, with supporting organizations, mixed use strategies combined with financial tools and public-private partnerships to foster investments – e.g. a Broad Street Business Incentive Program built on financial securities; a Civic Trust to provide combined affordable housing and commercial space; a Gap Analysis to help link community assets to commercial opportunities.
• Work with the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and federal lawmakers to advance the reconfiguration of the interstate 90 and State Route 57 interchange near Midway Mall.
• Develop a Community Learn and Grow Partnership built on a volunteer team approach that brings together government, education, business, industry, healthcare, nonprofit and faith-based organizations to develop programming and skill building opportunities for youth, adults and senior citizens. Youth programming can provide links to GED, higher education, career paths; senior programming that creates paths to volunteerism and second careers; educational programming to address critical needs. Approach can also emphasize building inter-generational relationships for mentoring and coaching youth, targeted youth programming for at-risk youth and health and wellness for all.
• Work with the school district, Lorain County Community College, the Lorain County Joint Vocational School, South Elyria neighborhood organizations and others to develop a South Elyria Revitalization Plan that nurtures home ownership and rental housing; arts, culture and heritage initiatives; youth programming; educational linkages; workforce training and linkages; business and job development; business recruitment; safety, infrastructure and quality of life issues.
I DON’T PRETEND TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS. BUT TO BEGIN WHAT I PROMISE WILL BE A VERY PUBLIC CONVERSATION THAT INVOLVES YOU, I SIMPLY ASK FOR FOUR THINGS:
• YOUR PRAYERS
• YOUR PATIENCE
• YOUR ENTHUSIASTIC PARTICIPATION AND
• YOUR PERSEVERANCE.
NOBODY CAN DO THIS ALONE. IT WILL TAKE ALL OF US TO GIVE THE BEST OF OURSELVES. I PLEDGE TO YOU THE BEST I HAVE TO GIVE AND TO GIVE YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO OFFER YOUR BEST EFFORTS AS WELL.
WE NEED TO BE KIND TO EACH OTHER, BUT WE ALSO NEED TO DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY OF ONE ANOTHER . WHEN SOMETHING IS WRONG IN THE CITY OR IN THE COMMUNITY – WE WILL SAY SO. WHEN SOMETHING IS BROKEN, WE WILL WORK TOGETHER TO FIX IT. AND WHEN SOMETHING IS WORKING, WE WILL SHOW WE BELIEVE IN IT BY BANDING TOGETHER TO MAKE IT STRONGER.
BY WORKING TOGETHER AND HOLDING EACH OTHER ACCOUNTABLE, WE CAN ONCE AGAIN CREATE A COMMUNITY OF OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH AND GOD BLESS YOU NOW AND IN THE YEAR TO COME.