Mayor David Condon gave an enthusiastic and optimistic assessment of Spokane during his annual State of the City address Friday at the Convention Center.
He opened his 40-minute talk by asking people to think about what they see when they drive to work everyday.
“I hope you see progress: better streets, improved access to recreation, more adaptive and responsive public safety, a more vibrant neighborhood and a thriving community,”Condon said.
Throughout, the mayor sprinkled in accomplishments of the city during his six years in office and offered glimpses at other projects planned and underway. But first…
“A few quick facts for the data nerds out there like me. Over the past six years, over two-point-four billion dollars have been invested in Spokane in the form of public and private projects. That includes the two largest years ever,' Condon said. "Household names like Nike and Urban Outfitters, Carhartt and Pendleton Wool and the introduction of two new medical schools, making Spokane the only city in the state that can make that claim.”
The mayor touted the city’s strong economy and a growing average household income. He says the city’s budget has grown from one that could barely provide services to one that now provide better service and makes investments to modernize the city’s infrastructure.
Condon touched on the improvements underway in Riverfront Park and talked about extending its reach to the west, including a refurbished Post Street Bridge.
The mayor leaned heavily on allusions to the Spokane River and the city’s increased attention to it during his term-and-a-half in office. Whereas the river was the center of the new town in the late 19th century, he says it became more of an afterthought until the last several years. Since, and because of, Expo ’74, he says the river has regained its rightful place.
“In just the past few years, we’re reestablished a close connection to the river," Condon said. "Now we’ve begun to re-think how we market our city, as a place for businesses to grow and expand, a community for people who grew up in Spokane to return home to opportunities and a city that visitors want to come back to.
"As we look back over the past few years and ahead to the next couple, we’re excited by all this momentum. There is a buzz about Spokane everywhere we visit, whether it’s in our neighborhoods, across the mountains in Seattle or all other parts of our country. People want to know what’s going on in Spokane, how are we doing it, and more importantly, what’s next?” he said.
Toward the end, Condon turned his talk into an interactive session, asking people to tell him their favorite things about the city.
“If you would, please pull out your phones. Tell us. Join the digital conversation. Text Mayor Condon to 22333,” Condon said.
Behind him, a variety of comments from audience members began appearing on the screen, people mentioning everything from their favorite natural places to their favorite dishes at their favorite restaurants.