Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton emphasized progress, potential and unity in his annual State of the City speech Thursday night.
The address at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater focused on Bloomington’s successes in 2016, its potential in 2017, and how the city fits into the national and global political and cultural climate.
Hamilton said his key policy areas in both 2016 and 2017 were jobs, the economy, affordable housing, public education and innovative and transparent government. Some of the projects from last year he referenced were the creation of a city trades district, multiple affordable housing developments, the initiation of the Switchyard Park development project and passing a referendum to increase local school funding.
Announced during the speech was the creation of the local Community Development Financial Institution, which would work with the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County to give $150,000 in grant money to help job growth.
Other projects Hamilton endorsed in his speech included the proposed city-wide broadband development. Axia Technology Partners is currently researching the possibility of a public fiber-optic network in Bloomington. The report will hopefully come soon, Hamilton said, and a public interest campaign will begin to gauge the public’s interest in the project.
“I will urge you to consider being a model city in reducing the digital divide,” he said.
Hamilton also mentioned proposals including the use of tiny houses as affordable living, a water study of Lake Monroe and investment in local food growth and consumption.
Hamilton heavily criticized the the I-69 development, particularly for how much time the project has taken. The Indiana Department of Transportation announced this week that the section alongside Bloomington would not be done until 2018. It was originally expected to be done this year.
Hamilton spent a portion of the speech addressing his concern for the current political climate in the United States and criticizing the federal government for causing fear and falsehoods President Trump and other politicians have spread. Without mentioning it by name, Hamilton criticized the Trump administration for denying climate change, being against women’s reproductive rights and using “alternative facts," a phrase used by White House aide Kellyanne Conway that has come to be used to describe falsehoods.
He said he did not want the city to be disheartened by what is happening at the state and federal levels.
In his concluding remarks, he described Bloomington as a city that is representative of many of America’s divisions. Hamilton said it was a blue city in a red state, a developed town surrounded by farming and a progressive, university town that has a strong manufacturing sector. Despite all the opposites, he expressed a belief in future cooperation.
“I don’t where we’re ultimately headed, but I know this: Boomington did not change on November 8 or January 20,” Hamilton said. "We will not shrink, we will not falter, we will not fail in Bloomington.”
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