“It takes a village” is part of an oft-quoted African proverb referring to needing many “villagers” to successfully raise children, and the same can be said for building successful cities.
And so Mayor Heidi Lueb relied on her village of city councilors and city staff for Tigard’s first in-person State of the City in three years, after a hiatus due to Covid. The event was presented April 24 at the Broadway Rose Theatre Company, where the focus was on five “Es” (or, in Leub’s case, six Es).
Lueb started by saying, “I am honored to be with you as we make a little history together. This is the first time in Tigard’s history that a woman has delivered the State of the City.” And she added, “I can tell you that the state of our city is resilient, compassionate, and stronger than ever.”
Lueb explained that the City Council’s strategic vision is to be an equitable community that is walkable, healthy, and accessible for everyone. The five Es include Equity, promoting a city that is inclusive “so all people can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential,” and Environment, embracing sustainability “to improve our natural resources, reduce our impact on the environment, and make our community more livable,” Lueb said.
The other Es are Economy, being “responsible stewards of our resources – including taxpayer dollars – (as) we work to strengthen Tigard’s long-term fiscal health;” Engagement, which “brings all voices to the table” and doesn’t overlook any part of the community; and Excellence, which means setting “high standards for ourselves, and we are always working to deliver above and beyond for the people and employers of Tigard,” Lueb said.
She listed more firsts for Tigard, including providing childcare on-site for the State of the City for the first time – although she noted that her husband Brian had taken their 2 1/2-year-old daughter Elizabeth (her “top” E) home after the start of the event because it was Elizabeth’s bedtime.
“We’ve also established our first-ever Racial Equity Action Plan… ” Lueb said. “To protect our community, we set a goal of planting 80,000 native trees and shrubs… ”
Major improvements are being made to Main Street in downtown Tigard, and as of April 15, Universal Plaza is open, Lueb said. “The plaza is a place for everyone – a community gathering spot in the heart of downtown Tigard that celebrates our shared connections.”
In addition, there has been important progress in maintaining the city’s long-term fiscal health, improving the city’s website, and holding more community meetings out in the community.
Furthermore, the city sent out 3,300 library cards to middle and high school students, is implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that will improve the city’s day-to-day operations, and it will offer “a 3-1-1 (call center), which is a one-stop shop for (the) community to engage with us,” Lueb said.
She praised city employees, noting, “From our utility workers, to engineers, to librarians, police officers and management analysts – and everything in between – they do the hard work every single day serving you and moving Tigard forward.”
At the beginning of the event, Lueb was introduced by Youth Councilor Aishiki Nag, who said, “The dream for any teenager is the opportunity to use your voice and have the City Council listen to you.”
Each of the city councilors also had the opportunity to discuss issues important to them via pre-recorded segments, starting with Councilor Maureen Wolf, whose topic was reducing homelessness.
Wolf talked about forming partnerships with various entities, including Family Promise of Tualatin Valley and the federal government, to fund programs to assist people in breaking the cycle of homelessness.
“There are 470 individuals in Tigard struggling with housing insecurity, and according to the recent point-in-time survey, 44 completely unsheltered individuals,” Wolf said.
Council President Yi-Kang Hu, discussing enhancing community safety and access, stressed the importance of ongoing training for police officers and working to make streets safer for both vehicular traffic and pedestrians.
Councilor Jai Raj Singh talked about addressing climate change. “The climate crisis has upended us,” he said, noting the importance of investing in adaptation measures, incentivizing construction practices to protect the environment, and modernizing and improving city services.
Councilor Jeanette Shaw discussed modernizing and improving city services and stressed the importance of providing city employees, including police, with safe facilities to work in. She noted that City Hall and the police station are nearly 30 years old.
The evening was not all about speeches. After enjoying refreshments provided by Harvest Moon Experience, one of two food vendors at Universal Plaza, the audience observed the Tigard Police Department color guard post the colors and enjoyed a performance by a local dance troupe, “Las Flamenquitas.”
And audience members did not leave empty-handed on their way out the door as each one received a tree sapling to plant, a clever way for the City of Tigard to get an additional 300 trees planted.
You can watch the 2023 State of the City address in its entirety on the City of Tigard’s YouTube page: tinyurl.com/ja8wkusd.