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Carl Brewer: Wichita can have a great next year

  • Published Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, at 12 a.m.

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I hope many people will attend or tune in to my 2014 State of the City address on Jan. 28. I’m looking forward to Wichita enjoying a great 2014.

It will be great because Wichitans are always looking to improve our city. Great because there are exciting possibilities and important issues for our residents to further explore. And great because the time has come for us to make important community decisions that require our collective input and characteristic collaboration.

The community issues include decisions about:

•  A more aggressive approach to job creation.

•  The prospects of a new or renovated convention center and performing arts facility.

•  Funding for water and sewer improvements.

•  Possible expansion of the bus system.

•  Increased housing opportunities for our low-income residents.

•  An upgrade of our street system.

•  A sustainable water supply.

•  And perhaps a new Central Library.

Our ongoing ACT-ICT community engagement meetings are helping us identify key community priorities. There are uncertainties, unknowns and expected anxiety about where we’re going as our city continues to recover from the Great Recession.

But some things we already know: Wichitans work together. We want to make our city better. And we won’t settle for anything less.

So, yes, I’m looking forward to a great 2014 and beyond, because I believe in our residents, our workers and our civic, public and private-sector leaders.

I’m excited, in part, because city government is positioned to be a leading partner on the big issues ahead, thanks to years of skillful reductions, reorganizing and refocusing of public resources led by City Manager Robert Layton and his outstanding team of public workers.

There are no perfect people or organizations, but Wichita has one of the nation’s best city managers and some of its most dedicated and skilled public servants. The recent past, including 2013, provides plenty of proof.

Layton and his staff have played a key role in many public and public-private successes. Those include breaking ground on a new airport terminal, making remarkable progress on downtown revitalization, implementing environmental-friendly initiatives such as curbside recycling, reducing the city’s budget and debt, assisting efforts to open an aviation office and markets in China, holding hundreds of ongoing ACT-ICT community engagement meetings and much more.

City government has the right people in the right positions to help lead our community.

So I am looking forward to 2014. We’ll have to keep working through tough issues, big projects and new difficulties. There are going to be questions, challenges, struggles and maybe setbacks, but we can do it. We can make 2014 a great year.

Carl Brewer is mayor of Wichita.

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