Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer's Final State of the City Address
Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer gave his final State of the City address on Tuesday night. He reached his term limit after eight years at the helm. He thanked his many colleagues, and credited public and private partnerships for helping Wichita through tough economic times.
Brewer said he’s most proud of the revitalization of downtown Wichita.
“Since 2009, the private sector has invested nearly $300 million in redevelopment projects, including the Downtown YMCA, the Lux, Cargill Innovation Center plus the Drury Plaza and Ambassador hotels.”
Brewer also mentioned the renovations to Wichita’s Union Station, and work on the terminal building at the newly named Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport.
But he cited the recent leak at Wichita’s main water treatment plant as a clear sign that the city’s infrastructure needs to be a priority going forward.
Mayor Carl Brewer made no mistake about it: Wichita’s economy needs work.
“We must diversify our economy,” he said. “Wichita has lost about 20,000 jobs over the past 10 years and just recently, we learned of more layoffs in the aviation sector."
"This further makes the case for expanding into other industries and working together to improve the regional economy.”
Brewer went on to express his support for using incentives to attract and retain businesses in Wichita.
He also mentioned the city’s partnership with Wichita State University as an important step for the city’s future.
“Our economic development strategy will be further strengthened by Wichita State’s 'Innovation Campus,' which will provide a place for inventors, job creators, researchers, students, and others,” Brewer said.
In late 2014, the Wichita Police Department announced that body cameras will be issued to all officers by the end of 2015. On Tuesday night, Brewer touted this effort as an example of the willingness of city officials to listen to the concerns of citizens.
“The Wichita Police Department is also working on improving crisis-intervention training for officers in order to better serve people with mental health illnesses.” he said. “We’re also focusing on cultural diversity and sensitivity training for officers.”
Brewer praised the Wichita Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team for making it essential to engage with the city’s “most vulnerable” population.
Brewer said that it’s the city’s goal to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015, and all homelessness by the end of 2016.
Brewer listed a number of fiscal concerns, including:
- Improvements to the city’s drainage system, a cost of $2.1 million
- Repairs to the city's bridges - 15% of which need repair or replacement
- An overhaul of the city’s aging bus fleet, a cost of $21 million
- The need for a modern convention center, as the Century II is nearly 50 years old
In his closing remarks, Brewer said he’s concerned about efforts to move municipal elections to the fall, saying it would create unneeded partisan divides.
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