Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima delivered today, Feb. 24, 2021, his 15TH annual State of the City Address via video conference.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic this was the first time in 18 years that the Mayor’s State of the City was provided remotely. During his speech, the Mayor paused for a moment of silence in remembrance of Las Cruces residents who have passed away due to COVID-19, for Las Crucens who continue to suffer health problems because of the deadly virus, and to everyone grieving for family members, friends and neighbors who have suffered with COVID-19.
“I’m speaking to you at a distance due to the COVID-19 pandemic we have been experiencing for the past 12 months, a year that has been as challenging as any I can remember,” Mayor Miyagishima said. “No community could have been fully prepared for what we have lived through or the challenges we have faced. The people we have lost, the disruption of almost every kind of public activity, the re-formulation of our schooling and commerce, and the devastating effect on our local businesses would have been impossible to imagine a year ago.”
Mayor Miyagishima praised the collective efforts of Las Cruces residents, City administration and staff members, and City Council for persevering through the past year.
“Everything has been a challenge, for the City, no less than for other institutions and for all of us in our daily lives,” Mayor Miyagishima said. “Thankfully, due to the Council’s careful financial stewardship over many years; to the focus, teamwork and dedication of our City staff; and most of all to the courage and character of the people who live here, I can announce that the state of our City is strong.”
Mayor Miyagishima also expressed his gratitude to nonprofit agencies and organizations, and Doña Ana County and State governments for working with the City to provide a wide range of services and programs to help Las Cruces residents and businesses in need. The Las Cruces City Council has authorized more than $3 million in City funds during the past year to help City residents and businesses with assistance for food, rent, mortgage, utilities, and medical aid.
The many lessons learned in the past year, and the compassion shown by so many has profoundly affected Las Cruces. Mayor Miyagishima said all of the hardships caused by the pandemic have allowed Las Cruces’ best qualities to shine.
“I’ll have to say that I think we have, as Las Crucens, a head start in that realization and understanding,” Mayor Miyagishima said. “ We have long understood the intrinsic worth of every individual in our community, and the important roles we play in one another’s lives.”
As Las Cruces will gradually recover out of the pandemic, Mayor Miyagishima said a goal for the City moving forward is to begin creating “local wealth,” which he described as the opportunity for Las Crucens to look beyond their roles as workers and toward building a base of personal and family wealth.
“I recently asked that our new Strategic Plan, call on the Economic Development Department to develop a component dedicated to Local Wealth Creation,” Mayor Miyagishima said. “…Creating local wealth leads, to the intergenerational transfer of wealth within our community, helping our children gain a financial foothold in their own lives. We need to open the doors of prosperity to all of our residents, so that building wealth is an activity of the many, not just a few.”
As a potential source for creating local wealth, the Mayor singled out the proposed development of City-owned property on east Lohman Avenue, near MountainView Regional Medical Center.
“We engaged a master planning consultant and worked with the public to envision a mixed-use residential and commercial district that will include not just single-family homes, but properties designed to serve what has come to be known nationally as the ‘missing middle’ – housing affordable to buyers and renters of more modest incomes, many of whom are the same people who have served us so selflessly over last 12 months.
We believe private developers and builders will find increasing value in serving this market, but for the time being we can make sure that developments that occur on land owned by public entities, like the City or the State Land Office, or that are subsidized in some way by taxpayers, include plenty of well-designed, attractive, energy-efficient homes affordable to a wider range of our residents.”
Mayor Miyagishima added other opportunities for building local wealth could come from continued redevelopment of the El Paseo and Solano Drive corridors.
The Mayor vowed his focus and that of City leaders will not be limited to just one area of Las Cruces.
“A revitalized downtown, vibrant city corridors, healthy and steadily renewing existing neighborhoods – these are the ways we will avoid a problem that so many growing cities have experienced: a doughnut-like growth pattern that features a circle of newer, well-appointed neighborhoods around a hollowed-out core,” he said.
“We are not going to let that happen here.”
Commitments also remain strong for creating a behavioral health district, enhancing ties of community and mutual respect among residents, and being proactive in dealing with climate changes.
The full video version of Mayor Miyagishima’s State of the City Address is available online at clctv.com and at YouTube.com/clctv20. The State of the City Address will also be rebroadcast at various times in the coming weeks on CLC-TV, Comcast Cable channel 20.
Click here to download a version of the Mayor's State of the City Address.
Click here to download a Spanish version of the Mayor's State of the City Address.