Written by: Brooke Cary
Residents of Riverside swelled with pride over their city, its achievements and its future at the 39th State of the City address on Jan. 28.
“A city that prides itself on the future and long-term planning . . . bodes well for the city and for a strong leader,” UCR student Taylor Valmores said. “Attention to bringing people together and the celebration of our differences . . . is huge. Especially in today’s tough climate.”
Mayor William “Rusty” Bailey delivered the State of the city address at the Riverside Convention Center, where over 1,100 attendees gathered for the event.
The night began with an Invocation of singing and prayer, celebrating diversity and unification among a number of the city’s various religious institutions.
Rabbi Suzanne Singer, Reverend Jon Harris, Dr. Shukavak Dasa and Dr. Mustafa Kuko gave the Invocation, representing the Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Islamic communities in Riverside.
“There is so much achievement in the year 2015,” Dr. Mustafa Kuko said. Kuko added that in his speech, “he (Mayor Rusty Bailey) makes you feel proud of your city and makes you feel that the community is a good one.”
The Riverside Chamber of Commerce team, Keep Riverside Clean and Beautiful, awarded eight Beautification awards to new and existing landscapes in Riverside. First place winners include UCR’s Student Recreation Center, CBU’s The Point, the Riverside Plaza, the Benedict Castle Teen Challenge and UCR’s Glen Mor Student Housing.
The Riverside’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services organization accepted the Chairman’s Award and Bourns, Inc. received the Mayor’s Award. The Award of Distinction was given to one of Riverside’s historic hotels: the Mission Inn.
Riverside Chamber of Commerce also dedicated the first-ever Dr. Carlos E. Cortés Award to Nancy Melendez for her spirit of volunteerism and dedication to serving the Riverside community.
“I mean, I think I was overwhelmed,” Melendez said. “This is our home. This is our community. We love it and we’ll do anything to support it.”
Riverside City College’s own band director Gary Locke received the Riverside Hero Award for the second time since 1993. “Looking back 44 years in Riverside County . . . it seems like a lifetime has passed in a few minutes,” Locke said. Locke thanked many people in his speech, concluding that he had been, “standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Shortly after, Bailey delivered his address, highlighting Riverside’s goals and improvements made in the year 2015 and announcing new goals to further improve the city in 2016.
“Riverside has turned opportunity into action in 2015 and we will continue the momentum in the year to come,” Mayor Bailey said.
Bailey made mention of developments and goals in transportation, residential housing, education, business development, veteran and homeless housing and the overall attractiveness of the city.
“Riverside is going from good to great,” Bailey said.
The night concluded with a standing ovation for the address and all attendees were welcomed to a reception directly afterward for food and beverages across the hall at the Convention Center.
For specific information on topics discussed in the Mayor’s address, see 2016 development plans announced in State of the City address.