Denver’s future looking bright

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Rachel Faulkner writes, By Dannika Harris and Rachel FaulknerSince it was founded in the mid-1800’s…

By Dannika Harris and Rachel FaulknerSince it was founded in the mid-1800’s, Denver has always been a prime example of everything America stands for. It is true, Denver has seen extreme hardships and difficulties, just like any other city, but through it all, the city and its people have persevered and come through those troubles fairly unscathed. And that, says Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, is not going to change.”We have gathered at a time of unprecedented challenge,” said the Mayor on Tuesday, July 14, during his annual State of the City address. One of the main points of his speech was, of course, the global recession. “We are engulfed by the worst economic crisis of our lifetime,” he said grimly, going on to detail the worst parts of this recession, including unemployment and foreclosures. Yet the Mayor’s message was not one of despair. “In the midst of the global recession, Denver remains a place for optimism. We face our challenges head on.” Later, he said, “While it is true that times are tough and budgets are tight, there is another reality that sets Denver apart. We have taken proactive steps to position ourselves for recovery. We are poised to emerge from this recession ahead of the pack.” However, he did say that in recession, regretfully, crime rates will go up, as they have during this past year.Mayor Hickenlooper detailed the ways he planned to save money in the budget. “We have already cut $86 million from our general fund budget,” he boasted. “This is progress in the right direction, but we can’t stop there. There are more tough decisions to make. All of us will feel the impacts.” The mayor did promote a feeling of unity, as he said, “Like families do during tough times, we have asked the community to come together and have a conversation.”The Mayor moved on to address the tough issue of education, starting with the Denver Preschool Program. “Denver and our voters were the first city in America to ensure that every 4-year-old has access to quality early childhood education. In the first year, 3,000 children benefited [from the program]. Next year we project 5,500 kids.” He also discussed the $16 million won in scholarships for Denver students.Next, the Mayor spoke of construction around Denver, particularly with the new development of the FasTrack and Union Station. He mentioned reconstructing many areas, such as Commons Park and LoDo. “Great cities don’t just pop up like mushrooms after a few days of rain,” he said. “They are built, street by street, from the sweat of thousands of citizens.” “We are living at a time of transformation,” Mayor Hickenlooper concluded. “The new American economy that is only yet beginning to emerge will invest and grow in places that embrace change, celebrate innovation, and where people work toward a common good. Denver is that place. Let’s get back to work!”After the conclusion of the speech, Governor Bill Ritter, who was in attendance, commented on it. “He sounded confident. These are really difficult times. We have, throughout America, difficult issues we need addressed. It was a fantastic speech.”Later, in an exclusive interview, the Mayor explained himself a little more fully. At last year’s State of the City address, Mayor Hickenlooper stated very clearly that he would reduce crime in this year. Yet between the last speech and this, crime has actually increased. “The largest increase in crime is crime against property,” he explained. Crime against property is robbery, theft, etc. “Crime will increase during a recession. Our police force does a pretty good job.”We wondered how President Obama’s stimulus plan would help Denver. “It’s a key ingredient to recovery. It isn’t going to be the solution by itself.” Then the Mayor stressed how children could help parents in these hard times. “Mayor Hickenlooper said “Give you love and support. Ask them what they need not what you want.” From this, we know that if we all stick together and help each other out in these hard times we will get through this. Like the saying goes, what doesn’t kill us, makes us only stronger.It may seem like the world is entirely a big, frightening place. Yet in difficult times, we have hope. That hope has been entrusted to our leaders, who work tirelessly to provide a good place for every American to live in. And Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper is one of those leaders, is doing everything he can to make Denver a better place. We would both like to thank Mayor Hickenlooper and his phenomenal staff for all the help they gave us and Jill Armstrong for presenting this wonderful opportunity.