As Tacoma’s mayor, now in the second month of my first term, I have identified and addressed a number of challenges and opportunities for our city. And, in all of the conversations I’ve had with residents, the business community, my City Council colleagues and city staff, one thing is clear:
Tacoma is moving forward. Fast.
I have the tremendous honor to drive the work we need to get done as we keep pace with our growing population and robust economy. As more and more choose to live, work, play, visit and do business in Tacoma, quality-of-life issues have emerged as a key focus for me.
I heard time and again on the campaign trail that people want good-paying jobs, safe neighborhoods and an affordable place to live. The city will work to ensure that its policies, programs and services are aligned to support these priorities.
The unemployment rate in Pierce County was 5.4 percent in December. It was 6 percent at the same time last year and, 10 years ago, it was 10.8 percent.
I’d like to see Tacoma’s unemployment rate continue to drop during my tenure as mayor, while focusing on those who work every day but cannot afford to provide for themselves and their families.
To do this, we need to come together as a city to prepare for present and future employment opportunities. We also need to ensure that the needs of our most vulnerable community members are addressed in a proactive, strategic way.
With last year’s declaration of public health emergency around the homelessness crisis, we made great strides in the way we help our most vulnerable community members access basic amenities.
There were some who feared we would only draw more individuals experiencing homelessness, but that has proven to not be the case. What we have found is that addressing the root causes of homelessness must continue to be an area of focus in Tacoma.
The city must continue to work with its community partners, and with other government agencies at all levels, to jointly address this complex issue.
In all things, I believe a collaborative approach often yields the most successful solutions.
Thanks to the streets initiative that Tacoma voters approved in 2015, the city received $21 million in state and federal grants for critically needed roadwork.
Federal grants have enabled Tacoma to make significant advancements in our infrastructure priorities, and I will work with our congressional delegation to continue pushing hard for those opportunities.
Speaking of ballot measures, the passage of Sound Transit 3 in 2016 means Tacoma will finally be connected to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport via Sound Transit Link light rail.
As co-chair of the Tacoma Dome Link Extension Elected Leader Group, I will help ensure that project is delivered as soon as possible, with community input.
Ultimately, as our region evolves and grows, Tacoma benefits. We will continue to make community-informed decisions, as we work to retain and recruit companies that bring stable, living-wage jobs and achieve sustainable growth.
I will work to ensure that Tacoma is prepared to face the challenges of growth with first-class transportation, affordable housing and people-centered neighborhoods.
In partnership with mayors from across the nation, I intend to strongly advocate at the federal level for Tacoma’s interests while standing against actions that harm our city or go against our community’s values.
Now more than ever, people are looking to their local leaders to drive positive change. I am ready and eager to carry that charge for Tacoma.
Victoria Woodards was elected Tacoma mayor in November and previously served seven years on the City Council. Reach her by email at email@example.com