Chuck Reed spent much of his eighth and final State of the City speech thanking his predecessors while noting that a mayor’s work goes on long after he or she leaves office. Reed and and his fellow elected officials in San Jose have stood “on the shoulders of giants,” he said, and the work the council has carried out in recent years must be viewed outside the prism of four-year term limits.
“We have to think in much longer timeframes,” Reed said.
In front of roughly 1,000 people Thursday in the grand ballroom at the recently renovated McEnery Convention Center, Reed noted the contributions of previous mayors, such as Ron Gonzales, Susan Hammer and Tom McEnery. He also reminded the audience just how difficult a position the city was in when he moved from the City Council to the mayor’s office in 2007. “[W]e were suffering from our sixth straight year of budget deficits,” Reed said. “Red ink was projected for years to come, and that was before the Great Recession.”
Since that time, the city has slashed hundreds of jobs, cut wages and passed controversial arbitration and pension reform measures. The city has also begun to slowly restore core services as development picks up around the region.
Reed noted that “much of what we started will be carried out by the next mayor and council and will benefit future generations.”
Among his accomplishments, Reed said, more than 90 ethical and open government reforms have been put in place since he first came on to the City Council. The mayor also took time to point out San Jose’s lead on green energy projects, including “the nation’s first organics-to-biogas facility.”
“Our Green Vision has … put San Jose on the path to be the world center of clean-tech innovation,” he said.
Reed’s legacy without question will be tied to his pension reform platform. Despite criticism and litigation, Reed staunchly defended Measure B.
“These ongoing savings helped us avoid service cuts this year and vastly outweigh the one-time costs of defending our pension reforms in court,” he said. “Once the legal case is resolved, we will get additional savings that will allow San Jose to restore more services.
“We refused to kick the can down the road as has been done in many other cities.”
With less than year left on his term, Reed said public safety will be the his top priority, including the restaffing of the police department, improving fire department’s response times, reducing homelessness and expanding community outreach. Increasing library hours and addressing a $900 million backlog in street and infrastructure repairs will require solutions in the future.
“We’ve slowed down skyrocketing costs, we’ve captured economic growth and we’ve laid the groundwork for a strong and sustainable future,” Reed said. “But regrettably, our fiscal challenges have not gone away and this is not a problem we can solve this year.”
Reed also championed the city’s efforts to “cut red tape” and reduce permitting fees.
“Our plan has paid off big time,” he said. “Since 2010, over $3 billion worth of major projects have been built or have started construction in San Jose, including the Samsung America headquarters, high-rise residential towers in downtown” and more.
One of the mayor’s staffers said Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff was in the crowd, and Reed included in his speech a new development in getting the baseball club to relocate to San Jose.
“We learned today that the Ninth Circuit has agreed to expedite our hearing and we hope to have a legal decision this summer,” Reed said. “I am looking forward to watching the next mayor throw the first pitch for the San Jose A’s.
He added, “Thankfully, not everything moves at the speed of the Commissioner (Bud Selig).”
The next mayor, Reed said, will also cut the ribbon on the new San Jose Earthquakes soccer stadium near the airport.
The mayor’s son, Alex Reed, delivered perhaps the most entertaining comments of the night by detailing a few things people might not know about the straight-laced mayor. Alex noted that his father likes bottom-shelf white zinfandel over fine wines; eats KFC, cashews and “a frightening amount of chocolate;” and still uses “you’ve got mail” AOL email.
Reed’s daughter, Air Force pilot Kim Campbell, also delivered an introduction in a video message.
Here is a transcript of Mayor Chuck Reed’s final State of the City speech.