The Mayor’s State of the City Address – March 6

Honorable members of the City Council, School Board, City and School Officials, citizens of Somersworth;

The state of our City is our journey on what many believed was the “Never Forever Endeavor”.

The ending of the roar of the industrial machines of the once great mills, ushered in a dark chapter for our community. The closing of the mills brought the era of the shoe shops but as so often occurs, this too, would end. As the shoe shops closed, another industrial giant chose to call Somersworth its home; General Electric. They brought with them the hope of jobs and growth. Then, after decades of generational employment opportunities, commitment and engagement within our Hilltop city, their gates and openness also closed.

Each shift, each closing, and adjustment took its toll on our small Yankee community. Downtown businesses which were etched in family traditions, became vacant. The demographics of neighborhoods fell victim to the promises of urban renewal, and for a period it seemed that the Hilltopper spirit, the engine, that had driven the success of Somersworth since 1729 had lost its energy. Throughout our community, within the surviving local restaurants, coffee shops and bars, the optimism which was once the foundation of Somersworth’s identity had been replaced with a repertoire of lost spirit, “that will never happen” and “Somersworth is now Scumersworth.”

This loss of spirit was further echoed by a lack of cooperation, communication and collaboration between elected bodies and city agencies. The construction of superficial silos and the belief that each body and municipal and school employees actions, had no cause or effect upon the community as a whole, brought on a time line of stagnation, lack of vision and settling for non Hilltopper values.

For a period, Somersworth became foreign to itself. Absent of its identity, foundation, direction, history and future. Yet, even those who were the naysayers never really gave up. As all of those who are New Englander’s know, even the most critical and grumpy Yankee, never surrenders their commitment to their hometown.

Each negative comment was masked with the challenge of seeking improvement. Each criticism, was the kick of motivation needed to discover solutions, communicate, work together, innovate and lead. Those who truly love the home we call Somersworth, never gave up and only sought the unweaving commitment of those that stepped forward to lead, to do just that, lead.

Lead; our community down the path on its new journey towards greatness and success. Of aggressively marketing and selling Somersworth, continuing the development of our downtown business district, and attracting new entrepreneurs and business leaders to our community.

Lead; our community, by not settling for anything less than we deserve, by seeking innovative ways to deliver on the best of the best, with each project or service we embark upon.

Lead; by utilizing the investment of the Idlehurst elementary school and new CTC center as community centers for all citizens and local organizations.

Lead; by ensuring that our students have access to 21century education and learning opportunities, and continuing to demand that the state and federal government honor their partnership and obligation in this commitment.

Lead; by continuing to ensure that our first responders and law enforcement have the tools necessary to keep us safe, as well as competitive salaries which keep them in Somersworth, and a state of the art fire station.

Lead; by continuing our commitment to developing a sustainable Somersworth. By lessening each citizen’s eco footprint, by creating local programs and incentives which harbor environmentally friendly policies and practices.

Lead; by following the master plan of the drug task force, offering our hearts and community to those who seek treatment of addition. While balancing our aggressive approach to those who wish to poison Somersworth with heroin and opioids.

Lead; by modeling the cooperation of government between elected bodies. By showing how our local government of a Mayor, City Manager, City Council, School Board, and municipal boards can rise above ego, self-service and hidden agendas in the name of progress and a commitment to Somersworth. This collaboration and cooperation have been the spirit of driving further commitment from all government employees. The modeling we give as local elected leaders continues the energy within city hall, the school system and throughout our community as we continue on our journey of reaching our Vision 2020 goals and ensuring a “Bright Future” for all.

I welcome all leaders in Washington or Concord who need the courage to abandon the practices of partisanship and political polarization, to visit the Hilltop city. Upon the conclusion of your visit you will be retaught the principals of democracy; honoring differences, practicing civility and leading in the name of your city, state, nation and not thyself.

Lead; by continuing our investment and commitment to roads, sidewalks and infrastructure improvements.

Lead; honoring, celebrating, and learning from our differences. Building a community which is welcoming to ALL. Adding to the mosaic which has made our community desirable for all who seek liberty, hope and true brother and sisterhood. Standing by those values and defending them when necessary from policies in Washington or Concord which might be counter to our Hilltopper values.

We’ve achieved many successes and continue to be “On the Move”! because we continue to believe in ourselves, our neighbors, and our community. We overcame our fears of “If I Never Forever Endeavor”.

As an educator by trade, all who know me both inside and outside of the school environment can attest for my love of children books. One only needs to venture into the children’s section of any bookstore to discover the adult messages of encouragement and reflection within their pages.

“If I Never Forever Endeavor” written by New Englander Holly Meade from Sedgwick Maine, reminds us, of all we have achieved as a community, by overcoming our fears. It inspires us to continue to soar, to honor our “Proud Past” and “Bright Future”.

“If I Never Forever Endeavor” by Holly Meade

It is the spirit of togetherness and honoring each other which has lead us out of our nest to once again soar. It is the ability to listen to each other, to communicate in respectful ways and to not allow un-neighborly attacks which has kept Somersworth a shining beacon for those who wish to experience the best of Yankeeism. We are once again flying, where our journey will lead is up to us, it is now uninhibited. There will be storms and strong winds along the journey. There will be times when we need to rest, breath and reevaluate our direction.

However, this is our journey, our destiny and our home. Together we have left the nest honoring our “Proud Past” and together soar towards our “Bright Future”

 

We are a community, we are on the move, and we are achieving progress and greatness.
WE ARE SOMERSWORTH!
                                    Mayor Dana Hilliard 

 

 

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