Mayor lauds residents in face of challenges

Showing up and being up to the challenge were the primary themes of Mayor Cathy Clark’s State of the City speech Wednesday, March 10.

Clark had no idea the rollercoaster ride the city was in for when she gave the annual address in 2020. A pandemic, hacking of the city’s computers, a devastating wildfire season, disputes over the city’s approach to inclusion and then an ice storm all snarled the regular flow of business for the council. Minutes after her speech concluded, the public was made aware that the city manager had discharged a gun in his office. Clark did not address the matter during the speech.

Despite all the challenges, “Keizer was up to the challenge,” Clark said.

She credited the community with opening their hearts at each decision point and finding ways to serve each other.

Looking forward, Clark said she hoped the city could capitalize on the lessons learned and develop better plans for future emergencies. That includes looking at the ways the Keizer invites new city councilors and city volunteers into the fold.

On the council side of things, there are already changes afoot on the policy front, but Clark is drafting “a companion document for council onboarding and orientation.”

In addition, members of the Keizer City Council want to make volunteering on city committees a less intimidating experience.

“Wouldn’t it be better if, when you showed up, we could connect you with training and resources to be able to be very successful. If you don’t know how to get involved, we want to make sure you do so that you can pursue the things that are that you’re passionate about in serving the people of Keizer,” Clark said. “We believe that that’s a fabulous investment in our volunteers.”

Clark also wants to host work sessions and work groups developing plans to address areas of diversity, equity and inclusion “so we can then have conversations targeted to specific action areas and then be able to put together plans for action in those areas.”