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Inaugural Address 2019

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Mayor Kim Norton on January 7, 2019

It is an absolute honor to serve as Rochester’s 45th Mayor and as her first female Mayor. While I didn’t set out to be part of a movement - I just wanted to provide leadership here in the community that I love - it is clear that we are also at an important moment in time and I recognize this and feel privileged to play a small part. Of course none of this would be possible without the support and votes of Rochester’s residents - I am so very grateful for the opportunity you have given me. My heartfelt thanks to you all.

My husband, Randy Stone, has been a constant support and I love him all the more for his patience, care & strength during the stress of the campaign. I suspect one of my greatest challenges will be to strike the right balance between service to the city and need to be home.

For those that don’t know, I had the most awesome campaign committee - I was going to ask them to stand but don’t want to embarrass anyone. They supported the concept of running a positive campaign from day one and shared their talent and energy with me in so many ways for a hectic eight months.

A special surprise visit from my brother Pat (NE) and my daughter Katherine - I so appreciate that you’re here. Several of the others kids were around for that long election night it means a lot that they have supported (maybe sometimes tolerated) my service these many years.

I also want to thank Ardell Brede for his 16 years of dedicated service to our community. I had the pleasure of working closely with Ardell and the City as a legislator and have the utmost respect for his leadership - he lead with his heart and a hug - and the tremendous effort he poured into being your Mayor. They are big shoes to fill and I have small feet, but perhaps my passion for the city and public service will provide the padding I need to keep up the pace. Reading some brief bits on the 44 Mayors before me as given me an appreciation for the variety of issues that have faced our city. Some dramatic and traumatizing like the natural disasters we’ve faced, but others are remarkably similar to those we face today with significant growth and change. I will do my best to represent you through whatever we face in the next fours year and hope you’ll be right there with me working be do it right.

I started out writing “We live in a remarkable City”...but that didn’t feel quite right. So I tried again “ We live in a remarkable Community”...and that feels like the right way to start. Don’t misunderstand, we have a terrific City and one that is growing and changing and I expect will be a shining star in the upper mid-west before all is said and done. But it’s the people that make Rochester such a special community. Whether born and raised here, or a transplant— the people that live here are what make this place special —they're what make the businesses hum, our students excel, our non-profits thrive and needed change possible. A new school,supt. once said that we are a community of over achievers - I just think we are a community of smart, talented people who aren't afraid to roll their sleeves up to make things better. And I’m asking you to join me and our new City Council and the terrific staff from City Hall to do more of that.

My Goals

During the campaign I talked about a vision for our city - some of the ideas were based on my own experiences as a resident, what I’ve learned as a leader and knowledge gained during my Bush Fellowship...but much was based on what I learned listening to residents. This isn’t exhaustive, but I’ll touch on 4 main areas:

• Good Government and Community Engagement:

1. We must provide a more transparent, inclusive, and cohesive city government. We all campaigned on variations of this topic and you’ll see forward movement already at tonight’s first 2019 City Council meeting — but more can be done. Council trainings and mentoring can help us work better together.

2. A complete review of the city Committees and Commissions is forthcoming —their charge, their membership, their support, their reporting - I hope to make the application process easier, the community outreach deeper and assure that a diverse range of talents and voices are represented. Those people that I mentioned that make Rochester so remarkable have a lot to offer and we need to include their ideas, their talents and their voices as often as we can.

 3. Which leads to the final area I’ll engagement. I hope to work with various departments, with Council Members, with community groups to bring more voices and ideas to bear on community decisions.

I feel confident that together we will work as a team to address these community concerns.

• Development:

1. DMC growth must provide for the people who work and visit downtown, but must also meet the needs of those that live here — remaining a place where everyone feels welcome. I have every confidence that we can do this and look forward to being a part of the DMCC Board and working on vital transportation and housing issues as well as development of the education/learning pillar in DMC very soon.

2. However, Rochester is much more than our downtown and we must balance our focus across every sector of our city —creating strong, safe neighborhoods for all. I hope to begin planning this next year to strengthen the great work of the RNeighbors organization by developing an Office of Neighborhoods or Neighborhood Involvement as a one-stop shop for the community. More to come as we further build on the Community Development and Planning Department changes.

3. And all development in Rochester needs to create a livable, walkable and healthy community for everyone who lives here —from the babe in a stroller, to the patient or elderly resident using a walker or wheelchair... and, frankly, everything in between.

• Sustainability:

 I think most of us can agree that we must be good stewards of our planet. To not do all we can to create a place for future generations —our children and grandchildren — is irresponsible. We do not need to be reliant on the Federal Government for action — cities can make a difference. 

1. I will continue to support Mayor Brede’s commitment to move to 100% renewables by 2030 and look forward to working with RPU toward that goal. The City Council has done a terrific job creating a Comprehensive Plan and Energy Action Plan that moves us in the right direction. The city and DMC share a Sustainability Director through a grant that is vital to our success. Signing on the #WeAreStillIn Mayors Climate Initiative will occur this week. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, measuring progress and investing in sustainable, energy efficient infrastructure are just a few components we must address. 

2. I will be working to create a Sustainability and Resiliency Council that I hope will utilize leadership from the various City Dept’s and the relevant Commissions to imbed these concepts throughout city organization — let’s make it how we do business. I will also be reaching out to the County and Business community to see if they will join our effort and have a seat at the table, too —inter-governmental relationships are vital and I will keep a focus on building those.

3. We will continue our relationship with Muenster Germany through the Climate Smart Municipality project and will be bringing an intern from Germany here this spring to help move us along in our efforts.

• Welcoming and Inclusive Community.

We live in a diverse community that brings in millions of visitors and patients from around the world each year. Our success as a medical community has been in no small part because of the caring environment we have created for visitors. Our continued success relies on our ability to be welcoming and caring to strangers on the street as well as to our neighbors across the street. I am and will continue to ask that everyone support success for all who live in our community.

Getting to know your neighbors is a great start—I’ll try to help by working with law enforcement, City Council, the Communication Department, local non- profits and anyone interested with Ward gatherings and increased community engagement. The Golden Rule runs through almost every religions and spiritual writing — it takes so little to offer the best of ourselves and yet we often forget to do so - I hope you’ll work with me to offer our best.

Yes, change —the inevitable change that is growth and progress — is happening in our community. I will do my best to help keep you informed, to work to assure that it’s the right direction for us to be moving, Working together as the remarkable community of over-achievers that we are, we will be a stronger, compassionate, more vibrant and resilient city with a continued high quality of life and first class reputation. This will take all of us and I’m counting on your support to help me and the City Council prepare us for our tremendous future.