Mayor Eileen Weir utilized the well-known characteristics of President Truman to highlight not only the history of the City and the work done in the last year but also shape the goals she has for the City in 2020.
“Harry Truman became President of the United State of America on April 12, 1945, taking the oath of office before a stunned and mourning nation with his wife, Bess Wallace Truman, by his side looking equally shocked that her husband would take the helm of an office about which he knew practically nothing,” Mayor Weir said. “The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of that historic moment in our country’s history and in the lives of two ordinary people from Independence. Every speech given in Independence or about Independence could - and should - reflect on the Trumans. Harry Truman is a central character in our city, and at no greater time than now.”
Independence has led the region with the Rental Ready Program ensuring renters in the city know the properties in our community are held to basic life safety standards.
“This was a highly controversial issue balancing property owners’ and renters’ rights with the demand for safe, quality housing. Other cities in our region including Grandview and Kansas City followed our lead and have also adopted rental inspection programs.”
She also highlighted the 6 percent rate reduction City of Independence Utilities customers received this year.
“For the first time in history, Independence Power & Light customers were given a rate decrease. It was the right thing to do. We live in a region that is growing and gaining national attention, and we knew that our electric rate was an obstacle to our ability to participate in growth. The 6 precent rate reduction for every IPL customer is a step forward in making our city more competitive to attract and retain residents and employers.”
Over the last two years the Independence Police Department has added two specialized units. The Street Crimes Unit began in December 2018 and the Gun Squad was formed in the summer of 2019.
“The Independence Police Department created two new units to focus on nuisance crime and gun violence. The city council approved funding for five new officers in 2018 to create the Street Crimes Unit and in its first year the results have been staggering.
In 2019, the council supported creation of the Gun Squad with no additional IPD funding, and updated our Safe Streets legislation. These two actions combined have given our officers the tools to initiate more than 200 illegal weapons cases in the past six months.
The Street Crimes Unit and Gun Squad are right for Independence. The city didn’t spend years in planning and development. We didn’t wait for funding to become available. Our police department saw an urgent need in our community, and found creative solutions using existing resources. We needed to do it, and we found a way.”
In the last five years, citizens of Independence have approved five tax referendums for police, fire, streets, motor vehicle licensing and the local use tax. Mayor Weir thanked the citizens for their support of these public services.
“I am grateful to all those who volunteer to help with important campaigns that support essential services in our city and to the voters for their confidence.”
As she closed her speech she looked forward to 2020 and the years to come. The topics she and the council will look into include homelessness, early childhood education, the 2020 Census, housing and economic development.
“The issues of homelessness will require more attention in 2020. We have experienced an increase in identified homeless camps within our city and our school districts have a high number of students who lack stable housing. The average age of a homeless person is seven years old. Any discussion on homeless outreach and enforcement must necessarily include strategies for children and families.”
She closed her speech with a reference to President Truman’s famous quote upon his return to the City of Independence after his presidency.
“Independence truly is the center of things for most of us. It is an honor to live in this city and to serve as your mayor.”
You can find a complete copy of the Mayor’s speech here.