By Luke Putvin
On Thursday June 13 Residents, city staff, volunteers and elected officials attended Mayor Nicola Smith’s State of the City address at Lynnwood Convention Center. Over 200 were in attendance.
Prior to Mayor Smith’s speech, City Council President Benjamin Goodwin spoke to the audience. He reminded everyone that he was not seeking reelection and said he achieved what he wanted to in the eight years he has spent on the council. “I think it’s time for someone else to step in… [the city council] can do fine without me; my family can’t.”
“Lynnwood is a growing and thriving community,” Goodwin said. “The city council is focusing on managing that growth; if we don’t manage it, it will manage us.” He offered a single word for his vision of Lynnwood’s future: empowerment. Focusing specifically on self-empowerment, Goodwin offered three suggestions for individuals to improve their self-empowerment.
“Assume good intentions,” Goodwin began. He spoke of the importance of compassion and empathy towards others. “Be slow to judge and quick to forgive.”
Second, “Don’t be too easy to offend. We choose to be offended.” He suggested instead of taking offense to open a dialogue instead. He emphasized that this does not mean to ignore things that are offensive, but if one assumes good intentions, then turning the situation into a dialogue would be more beneficial.
Lastly, Goodwin said, “Develop a greater capacity for love… I truly do love you all.” He said that the city will grow and flourish if residents do these three things. He ended with thanking the council and everyone for help over the years.
When Mayor Smith took the stage, she started by offering her thanks to many people including city staff, her family and the Coast Salish people since Lynnwood is on historical Coast Salish Peoples’ land.
After giving a brief history of Lynnwood from before incorporation when the area was forest and egg farms to the present, Smith said, “We have always been a community that can endure change.”
“We have rapid change in our future,” she continued. The city council and staff are “turning aspirations into reality” when it comes to growth in the area. She called the Sound Transit Link Light Rail that is coming to Lynnwood “a real game changer” and “fast and reliable transportation.”
“Community Transit is another important partner,” Smith said. Community Transit is planning to cut its North/South bus lines once the Light Rail comes to the area. Instead, it will expand bus routes East and West to cover more neighborhoods so more individuals will have access to the new station.
Smith mentioned the upcoming “diversification of the economic base” as the Light Rail Station comes into Lynnwood. She also stressed the move towards a more supportive business climate in the city to increase family wage jobs.
With the population of Lynnwood increasing by over 3500 people in about five years, Smith said the city is looking at zoning laws and diversifying housing options. “We are moving toward a customer-centric approach and making planning easier and less frustrating for businesses.” There will be a website launching in Fall of 2019 that will allow new businesses to file all of their documents in one place. This will prevent businesses from having to go to multiple city departments to file their papers.
Smith later commended the Public Works department and the Police Department for their handling of the February snowstorm the area endured. “I’ve proud of the city’s response.”
“We are fully committed to integrating equity in the city,” Smith said. She showed the “All Are Welcome” initiative from the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission, and she mentioned city employees are receiving training on recognizing implicit biases. “We’ve done a lot of work, but there’s still a lot to do.”
“Lynnwood’s current economy is strong,” Smith went on to say. The city has earned over one million dollars in interest by setting aside money to save in a reserve fund. She spoke about Lynnwood being a regional model for financial transparency and how all these costs are accessible by the public.
“The hard part lies with you,” Smith said, “in maintaining the culture of Lynnwood.” She said the city will soon face rapid change, and this rapid change could cause stress. “Stress could do harm to us,” she said. However, she emphasized the need for resiliency. “There is no easy answer… [the city is] committed to you.”
Smith took a moment to address some serious issues, specifically homelessness and chronic drug addiction. “This is a national problem,” Smith said. “We care too much to let [the homeless] suffer. Our solution is ‘compassion with boundaries.’ It is slow work, and it takes time to build trust.” Smith said this work is not being done in a vacuum and that the police is working with the parks department as well as Verdant and the “Cops and Clergy” program. “We desire to make Lynnwood more welcoming… we need your help,” Smith said to the public. She closed her speech with gratitude and saying she is “excited about Lynnwood’s future.”