Mayor Helmke Urges Citizen Involvement As Blueprint For Millennium Approaches
Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke, Immediate Past President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, delivered his last State of the City address on February 5th.
The speech marks his 12th and final such speech, and reviewed Fort Wayne's successes over the past eleven years. Mayor Helmke leaves office in January of next year.
While much of Mayor Helmke's address dealt with local issues, portions of his speech offered a futuristic view as all American cities approach the millennium. The following is from Mayor Helmke's address to a luncheon sponsored by the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce.
"In our audience today, we have many candidates running for City Council and three of the Mayoral candidates. It will be up to our next Mayor to outline the direction for the next century and I hope he or she will be bold.
The job of Mayor is not an easy one. If you do things in which you truly believe -- such as annexation and tax reform -- you will most certainly make enemies. I challenge the next Mayor -- and I hope voters will do the same -- to be courageous in implementing plans to move Fort Wayne forward into the next century.
The newly elected officials will need to work closely with a community-based group that is getting a visioning process underway. My "Celebrate 2000" Committee is joining forces with Leadership Fort Wayne and others to develop a process for setting broad goals for the community. Our leaders will be able to use this as a blueprint for the new millennium. I know the visioning group will set the bar high for Fort Wayne -- we should expect much from ourselves because we have so much to offer.
We have come a long way as a community. We are an All-American City with low crime, low taxes and a low unemployment rate. Our work in the areas of tax reform, annexation and Community-Oriented Government has strengthened Fort Wayne.
We are well-prepared to address our future challenges as long as we each take responsibility to improve our community. Government cannot do it alone. None of us can afford to "remove uniform and mingle with the crowd." We need commitment of individual citizens to help solve problems.
That's why for the last 11 years I've been saying over and over again that government is not the solution or the problem -- "government is us." It's not the bad guy and it's not the savior. It is us. It's what we make of it. When we as citizens take the initiative to be proactive and solve our problems, government can be successful.
What will you do in 1999 to make our city a better place in which to live? How will you contribute? Don't sit on the sidelines and complain. Vote. Volunteer. Voice your opinion. Together, we'll make a difference.
I look forward to taking Fort Wayne into the year 2000. Thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve as Mayor of this great City for the past 11 years."