Roxanne Qualls

Installation Speech - Dec. 1, 1993

Roxanne Qualls
December 01, 1993— Cincinnati, Ohio
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Thank you. Before I begin I want to take a moment and recognize the officials from the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region who have joined us here today. Thank you for coming. Your presence is very much appreciated.

I also want to take a moment and recognize my family. My mother, Kathryn Qualls and my sister, Donna Gerding. I wanted my nephew to join me today. But he's three and is such a talker that he would have tried to be up here giving this speech. A future politician if ever there was one.

Distinguished guests, councilmembers, members of the city administration, city staff, friends, colleagues, and citizens of Cincinnati and of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, welcome to Cincinnati's City Hall.

There are many challenges which confront our city. But like any challenge it is our response which will determine whether the challenge becomes an opportunity or becomes a problem. We are confronted with the dual goals of revitalizing our city as we rebuild our neighborhoods. Many councils have shared these goals. Many councils have worked to fulfill them. The difference between this council of today and those of yesterday is that we make our decisions in a dramatically new political era.

It is an era distinguished by the reemergence of cities and their surrounding regions as the primary units of economic organization and competition within the global economy. It is an era distinguished by the reemergence of community service and citizenship as the fundamental qualities required of every individual in our community. It is an era which challenges every elected official and public servant. We must change the way we do business by becoming more accountable and more accessible to the very people whom we serve.

Cities and their surrounding regions, referred to as "citistates" by some have emerged as the primary units of economic organization and competition within the global economy. This occurs at the very moment when many U.S. cities, including Cincinnati, confront continuing erosion in economic opportunities for their citizens. The irreversible decline in federal and state dollars. And increasingly inefficient political organization which results in expensive duplication of basic services and the neglect of aging infrastructures.

For us to have a clear vision of our future, we must understand where the Greater Cincinnati /Northern Kentucky region fits into the global economy. It is commonly accepted that advances in transportation and telecommunications have created the global village. The economic welfare of our citizens is directly tied to our region's ability to compete internationally with other similar citistate regions. Our economic competitors are as diverse as Vancouver, Singapore, Rio, Louisville, Milan, Atlanta.

Recent events have highlighted the need for regional cooperation. The federal transportation act, known as ISTEA, and the Clean Air Act have spurred efforts to develop an effective regional transportation system which expands transit and includes light rail. The successful regional effort to obtain Congressional funding to study the transit corridor from the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport to Warren County is a first step in developing a major regional project which will generate jobs and improve air quality. The efficiency of a region's transportation system - - how we move people and goods - - directly determines our economic competitiveness .

Another recent example of our regional interdependence is the discussion of a possible new $200,000,000 sports stadium. A stadium with a new a price tag so large that no one city or county in our region can afford to bear the cost alone. If a new stadium is built it will be the product of cooperation between the public and private sector within the entire Ohio Kentucky Indiana region.

These are just two examples of the need and the potential benefits of regional cooperation. But, for most people there will be a more immediate benefit - - the creation of jobs. For every citizen in this region the opportunity to work is essential. The best social welfare program is a job. The best self esteem enhancer is a paycheck. That is why, as Mayor, I will work with the small business community, the corporate sector and our own city administration to aggressively pursue business retention and new business location. I want to assure my colleagues from both Ohio and Kentucky that my priorities for job development are clear. If new jobs are created I want them in the City of Cincinnati. If the city can't have them, I want them in Hamilton County. If they are not in Hamilton County, I want them in an adjacent county. And, if that won't work then I want them in the region. Ultimately, what benefits and strengthens the region, benefits and strengthens the City of Cincinnati.

If we truly are to realize the benefits of regional cooperation we must recognize and overcome the barriers to effective relationships. Our surrounding suburbs must recognize that the historic exodus of the middle class from the center city has produced urban cores which are becoming more racially isolated and economically disadvantaged. In the new era of global economic competition the extent to which one part of the region does well or does poorly effects all the others.

Another barrier to regional cooperation is the duplication of basic services within different political jurisdictions. This duplication is wasteful and expensive especially in a decade of declining resources. We must consider the regionalization of services as a means to control costs and insure continued quality services to residents. Regional transportation efforts, which include transit, may provide us with the first opportunity to establish a regional service mechanism. We must seize this opportunity while we aggressively develop others.

Within our Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky economy, a vital urban center is essential. In our region this is not only the city of Cincinnati, but its sister cities to the south along the Ohio River. We must insure that our urban core remains a center of employment and of cultural, educational and recreational opportunities and that it reflects in its political, business and social relationships the diversity found throughout the region.

Discussions about regionalism and the emerging citistates are important only as they serve to improve the quality of people's lives. The fact is that most people seek to build their lives and pursue their dreams in community. Every neighborhood has a right to be a liveable community - safe, clean, healthy, and vital. But with this right comes responsibility.

We are in desperate need of citizens who understand that the benefits of living in community can only be preserved by the willingness to assume the duties of community. The city can expand the Community Oriented Policing Program into every neighborhood, but we must have citizens willing to work with the police and take back their communities. The city can provide the dumpsters and the rakes to clean up vacant lots, but we must have citizens willing to push the rakes, haul the trash and fill the dumpsters.

As we expect more of our citizens, they have a right to expect more of their city. The city's performance will be measured by the degree to which we are willing to apply the lessons of the private sector to the public sector. Performance based budgeting -- measuring success according to outcomes, reengineering of work -- redesigning work processes to improve efficiency and productivity, and reorganizing work structures-- flattening bureaucracies, are challenges which the administration must confront if citizens are expected to redevelop their trust in city government. We must demonstrate to our people that the city respects the hard work their tax dollars represent and understands that we must prove to the people that city government is capable of doing "the little things right."

The city's performance also will be judged by our accessibility to the people whom we serve. Beginning next Thursday, December 9th, and every Thursday after that from 5-8 pm. I will hold "Mayor's Night In". Anyone who wants or believes they need to talk to the Mayor is welcome to come to my office. No appointment necessary. My staff will be with me and we will be prepared to serve. Once a quarter, I will hold "Mayor's Night Out". For those people who can't come to City Hall, I will go to their communities. The purpose is to listen and serve. Any one is welcome to join me. If other councilmembers would like to participate, we can change the name to include council.

The 1995-96 Biennial budget process also provides us with an opportunity to improve access and encourage participation. Both council and the community must establish an agenda for the city and our communities. The preparation of the next biennial budget can begin with the seemingly simple question asked of all our citizens, "What do you want Cincinnati to be in the year 2000, 2010, 2020?" We cannot ask our people to be our partners in change if we are unwilling to do business differently. We must work with the city manager to develop new structures for public participation which elicit and encourage involvement, empowerment, and responsibility. The 1995-96 Biennial budget process can be a new beginning.

This council has many challenges before it. Our people have many expectations of us. No one person is capable of meeting all the challenges, making all the changes, defining all the issues. Just as we need our residents, our business community and our non-profit sector to be our partners in meeting the challenges of today, so also we as a council need each other and the administration and staff to provide the leadership to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities.

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