DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Mayor Nan Whaley addressed a crowded city commission chamber Wednesday during her annual State of the City speech. The address was equal parts praise for the city’s achievements and call to a action for improvements.
Mayor Whaley began the Valentine’s Day speech on a positive note touting 2017 as a year with more investment and interest in Dayton than ever before.
“It’s fitting that this year’s State of the City Address should fall on Valentine’s Day,” she said.
She cited projects like Dayton Children’s $168 million patient town, the city’s new $64 million Main Library and a collaborative space between the Air Force Research Laboratory and Wright Brothers Institute on Second Street as proof of Dayton’s appeal.
She also mentioned efforts to restore blighted neighborhoods, saying the housing market is finally rebounding from recession-era scourge and included that in 2017 the city resurfaced more miles of residential streets than in any year in the past 4 decades.
Revival projects like the Dayton Arcade restoration and new riverfront attractions bolstered the mayor’s praise of an up and coming downtown.
“The walk-ability, amenities, diversity and inclusivity is what’s driving this market,” Mayor Whaley said.
The mayor’s commendation for 2017 progress was tempered by her call for more attention to neighborhood disparities, education and opioid abuse.
She pledged her support for West Dayton residents losing access to Good Samaritan Hospital.
“The city commission is committed to doing everything in our power to make sure that access to health care is addressed with this closing,” she said.
Mayor Whaley also commented on the ongoing partnership between the city and the Dayton Public Schools school board.
She said, “Our education system surely determines Dayton’s future.”
A portion of the speech was dedicated to the region’s ongoing battle with drug addiction.
“For many of us, it’s too personal,” Mayor Whaley said.
She said Montgomery County’s overdose rate increased by 35 percent between 2016 and 2017, giving personal examples of loved ones struggling with addiction.
Mayor Whaley’s positive note in bleak opioid-related statistics was Dayton’s involvement in holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for prescription painkillers. In 2017, the city joined a lawsuit against U.S. drug companies, believed to have contributed to a national opioid epidemic.
The mayor summed up her remarks, “I look forward to the tough work ahead. After all, what is Dayton if not a labor of love?”