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By Henrietta J. Burroughs             Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012            
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Photo of gathering at the East Palo Alto Mayor's State of the City Address
                                                    Photo courtesy of Willie Moore
East Palo Alto Mayor Laura Martinez is shown as she makes the
State of the City address in the East Palo Alto City Hall on
October 25, 2012.



Public officials and community residents showed up on Thursday, October 25 to hear East Palo Alto Mayor Laura Martinez deliver the State of the City address. The address was presented in the city council chambers, where food was in abundance for those who were interested in eating.

The mayor began her remarks by telling her audience, “We have much to celebrate tonight. I’m glad you all could be with us.”

Martinez said that the city had made sizeable accomplishments because, “…we’ve remained cohesive as a council.”

Martinez placed the hiring of two city employees high on her list of accomplishments. She singled out the hiring and appointment of East Palo Alto’s new city manager, Magda Gonzalez, who was sworn in at the East Palo Alto City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 16 and the hiring in December 2011 of the current City Attorney, Kathleen Kane.
Martinez continued by saying, “This council adopted the 2012-2013 budget that overcame a $1.5 million dollar deficit. This council also adopted a master fee schedule and successfully negotiated $1 million dollars with Facebook. We also received $5 million dollars in grant money for our first open space park, Cooley Landing. I thank the council for remaining committed and giving their very best on behalf of all of us.”

The audience who listened seemed very supportive of the mayor’s remarks. However, Bob Gomez, who is a current candidate for the Board of the Ravenswood City School District and a regular attendee at East Palo Alto City Council meetings, said that he
thought the mayor’s address was inadequate.

“It did not present a plan for the future of the city. It talked about the accomplishments of the past but did not outline anything for the future. We need a new city council,” Gomez said.

“We have people there who have been there too long and they have forgotten about the people.”

It’s notable that, of the city’s five council members only one other council member, Vice Mayor, Ruben Abrica, attended the ceremony.

Usually delivered at the beginning of a mayor’s terms, Martinez’ address marks the second time a mayor of East Palo Alto waited until the end of their mayoral term to address city residents about the state of the city. Former Mayor Carlos Romero, who is a current city council member, delivered the State of the City address last year, on the same day that Martinez was sworn in as mayor.

During her State of the City address Thursday, Martinez said that it was an honor to serve in the city in which she grew up and she thanked the community “for trusting me in this leadership position.”

Martinez said that overall crime in East Palo Alto is down by 13%, despite the recent shootings in East Palo Alto that have taken the lives of several young men.  “This is a remarkable accomplishment for any city,” she said.

Attention was also given to the successor agency board, which was developed to replace the city’s redevelopment agency and the funding that the city received through the agency from the State of California.  Martinez said the council gave direction to the city staff to work on an economic development plan, which will serve as “a roadmap in strengthening … [the] city’s economic future.” She said, that the city’s Capital Improvement Plan budget was developed as a result of the economic development plan.

Toward the end of her address, Martinez told the small crowd, “As a city, we value [the] celebration of our community and we really know how to come together. Whether it’s National Night Out, our [city’s] anniversary parade and firework show, the ground breaking of our new fire station or a rally against violence. We all come from a variety of different backgrounds and unite as one city.

“Challenges will continue to present themselves: foreclosures, unemployment and traffic concerns. Nevertheless, we will push forward and continue to advance. We gave so much to be proud of. I am confident that moving forward, we will continue to make great gains,” Martinez said.


The author of this article, Henrietta J. Burroughs, can be contacted by email at epatoday@epatoday.org.