ROCKFORD - Since the Mayor began giving the state of the city address in 2006, crime, education, and jobs have been at the heart of his speeches. Issues the mayor has been fighting since he took office.
"We can have a lot healthier, a lot safer more
enjoyable, more prosperous community than we have today," said
A similar theme was in his speech at Wednesday's state of the city address.
"We know that we have to lower our violent crime rate, reduce our tax burden, and increase job opportunities for all of our citizens," said Morrissey.
But the tide might be changing, as city wide initiatives are beginning to show results.
"We have to make sure we have a pathway for everyone," said Morrissey.
While the overall crime rate is down from 2006, violent crime still spikes every year. That's why this month the city is introducing a parolee reentry program, using city-wide collaboration to help stop violent criminals from reoffending.
"We didn't have that in the past, we will have it now," said Morrissey. A program he hopes will help lower the violent crime numbers for years to come.
Investment in the public school system is also starting to show results. This year district 205 will be updating its buildings, and the recently launched Academies Program is showing grade improvements amongst high school students.
"And it just shows us what's possible when we're working well together," said Morrissey.
The mayor's hope is that better educated students will lead to more qualified workers when they graduate.
"Perhaps in the past, we worked a lot on trying to help the citizens we wished we had," said Morrissey. "Instead of the citizens we actually have."
Mayor Morrissey also renewed his focus on investing all over the city and not just on the east side.
"The strategy didn't work here, and it didn't work anywhere in our nation," said Morrissey.
And while he's dream of a central university and vibrant downtown hasn't panned out.
"We can't expect to get a return on investment without making the investment," said Morrissey.
He says he's still committed to linking the higher education players together to create a 'city university network.'
"To make sure we have the effective results of a large university," said Morrissey.
He says he is also still focused on redeveloping downtown to lure business as well as create space for entrepreneurs.
"Our 'road to riches' must be including investments throughout our community," said Morrissey.