By John Larson
Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards delivered an inspiring message of Tacoma achieving its full potential, with all of its residents playing an active role, during her State of the City Address on March 6. The event took place on the campus of the University of Puget Sound. The theme of this year’s address was “Tacoma: Our Destiny in Motion.”
The event began with a dance performance from Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center. The national anthem, as well as an original song, were performed by the Tacoma Refugee Choir. Connie McCloud, cultural director with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, gave a welcoming message to the audience. Ceremonial drumming was performed by members of the Puyallup Tribe. A video celebrating the beauty of the city was shown while a poem was read by Tacoma Poet Laureate Kellie Richardson.
The invocation was delivered by Rabbi Bruce Kadden of Temple Beth El. Clemencia Castro-Woolery, chair-elect of the board of Tacoma/Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, served as the master of ceremonies.
“Your city government exists to serve you,” Woodards said. She thanked the University of Puget Sound, which she described as “a wonderful academic institution,” for hosting the event. Woodards gave credit to God for allowing her to serve as the mayor. She also acknowledged her mother as well as Harold Moss, the former mayor, Tacoma City Council member and Pierce County Council member who has served as her mentor for many years.
“We have a destiny that jointly belongs to all of us,” she declared.
Woodards examined some of the recent achievements in the city, including the $30 million renovation of Tacoma Dome and street repair projects. In 2018, city workers filled 3,600 potholes, she noted. The ongoing efforts have added more bicycle lanes and made more intersections compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Her speech touched on nearly every issue the city is facing, including mass transit projects, library hours and efforts to plant more trees through the Urban Forest Management Plan. She discussed efforts to open more libraries on Sundays and add another 396 hours of service.
Woodards discussed the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic. She relayed a message she received from a woman who was addicted to opioids and sought shelter at the city’s stability site for the homeless. The woman is now in recovery.
Woodards mentioned possible changes to the city’s recycling system, which she said would be a crucial decision.
The mayor announced her selection of a book for Tacoma Reads Together. The book she encourages all residents to read in 2019 is “There There,” a novel by Tommy Orange. The author is a graduate of the master of fine arts program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. A native of Oakland, he is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He will make an appearance in town later this year as part of the Tacoma Reads Together program.
Also during her address, the mayor announced the launch of a new “Coffee With the Mayor” event series in support of the City’s ongoing efforts to engage and connect with community members.
“Tacoma, along with the region that surrounds us, is changing rapidly,” she said. “Connecting directly with our residents and businesses has always provided me with the level of perspective I need to make better policy decisions, and I look forward to implementing this new tool.”
The events will take place every month, and have been scheduled through the end of 2019. Events have been scheduled in each Council district, and offered at a variety of different days and times to allow for broader participation:
Saturday, April 13, 10-11 a.m., Red Elm Cafe at 1114 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Friday, May 17, 8-9 a.m., downtown Tacoma (location to be announced)
Wednesday, June 5, 10-11 a.m. at Bella Latte, 6450 Tacoma Mall Blvd.)
Thursday, July 18, 5-6 p.m. at Bertolino’s, 2421 S. Union Ave.
Friday, Aug. 16, 9-10 a.m. at Anthem Coffee in Old Town Tacoma, 2312 N. 30th St.
Saturday, Sept. 14, 9-10 a.m. in northeast Tacoma (location to be announced)
Monday, Oct. 21, 6-7 p.m. at Starbucks, 3737 S. G St.
Monday, Nov. 18, 6-7 p.m., (location to be announced)
Thursday, Dec. 5, 5-6 p.m. at Antique Sandwich Co., 5102 N. Pearl St.
More information about the City of Tacoma is available at cityoftacoma.org.