Mayor Heartwell delivers last State of the City address

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – The theme of Mayor George Heartwell’s last State of the City address was “clarifying moments.”

“The voters said irrespective of the job you’ve done we don’t think anybody should serve as mayor as long as you have. OK. That was clarifying.” Heartwell said during his Saturday address at DeVos Place Convention Center downtown.

But instead of reflecting on his years at the helm, he chose instead to focus forward, on setting a foundation for the city’s future.

“I chose to look ahead with eager anticipation at the good that remains to be done while I have life, a new knee and one year remaining in office,” Heartwell said.

The mayor highlighted the city’s ongoing efforts to improve diversity, race relations and interaction with Grand Rapids police, and working with Grand Valley State University to retain young talent in the city.

But the bulk of the mayor’s speech focused on environmental issues and climate change.

“This is not just the stuff of science fiction, this is our present reality,” Heartwell said.

Heartwell announced what he’s calling the 2030 Energy District Challenge which would combine effort between government, the community and businesses to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below 2009 levels by 2030.

He will also ask the commission to take action to further prevent the fracking of natural gas within city limits.

“Our planet is sick and it is we who have infected it, so it must be we who heal it,” Heartwell said.

>>Online: The full text of the mayor’s address (pdf)

In conclusion, Heartwell said the future of Grand Rapids is up to us and what make of it.

“If we can dream it we can do it. Our bright future starts today. It starts here. It starts with you. Thank you.”

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