Mayor Goodwin delivers first State of the City Address

Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin delivered her first State of the City address as Charleston’s Mayor during tonight’s City Council Meeting. The address established 2019 as a year of progress—focusing on both the challenges faced and the accomplishments brought forth by the administration while also highlighting the vision for 2020.

“2019 was a monumental year. Together, we tried new things—a lot of new things. And although we experienced some missteps along the way, we did so always with the goal of elevating our city and her people,” said Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin. “Our team is energized by the progress we’ve made in just one year.  We are ready to face 2020 with a renewed sense of hope, and a renewed sense of possibility. Our goals will continue to reflect the priorities of our citizens—safe streets, clean communities, recreational opportunities for our youth, pothole-free roads and economic growth for our businesses.”

In 2019, the Goodwin Administration:

  • Eliminated a $3 million budget deficit without any new taxes, without cutting essential services and without using one-time money.
  • Doubled the paving budget—paving nearly 17 miles in asphalt and 3,500 square yards in concrete.
  • Created the Land Reuse Agency and the Vacant Structure Registry.
  • Secured $800,000 in grant money to improve, enhance and expand the Quick Response Team (QRT).
  • Created the Coordinated Addiction Response Effort (CARE) and entered into a partnership with the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute (WV DII).
  • Purchased new ambulances, fire trucks, police cruisers and watercraft rescue units for first responders.
  • Created a Small Business Checklist to ease the process of starting a new business in the City of Charleston.
  • Corrected a pay differential made years ago that penalized night shift patrol officers in the Charleston Police Department.
  • Formed the inaugural Charleston Youth Council.
  • Created the LGBTQ Working Group and increased the City’s Municipal Equality Index score to its highest level—26 points higher than 2018.
  • Hired the City’s first Homeless Outreach Coordinator, Kevin Johnson.
  • Created new policies within Parks and Recreation centers to help ensure a secure check-in, installed new lighting in the parking areas, introduced a lunch program and expanded free summer programs for kids. 
  • Eased recycling ordinances by allowing multiple containers and receptacles.
  • Picked up 42 tons of trash during the Spring “Team Up to Clean Up.”
  • Formed partnerships with higher learning institutions—University of Charleston, BridgeValley Community & Technical College and West Virginia University.
  • Enforced a fair and equitable collections system.
  • Hosted “Here to Serve” events throughout the city and connected with hundreds of constituents one-on-one to address their problems.
  • Partnered with State agencies and the Kanawha County Commission to complete critical infrastructure projects and improve public safety.


In 2020, the administration’s goals include:

  • Creating a Business Economic Impact Fund and dedicating substantial funding toward helping businesses with things like facade grants, micro grants, sidewalk repairs, and other project-based needs. 
  • Investing in the rebranding and marketing of Charleston and its critical assets to significantly help the travel and tourism to the Capital City.
  • Continuing demolition and paving efforts using monies from the Unassigned Fund Balance.
  • Working with the Statewide Leadership Roundtable on Afterschool and Summer Learning participants to develop robust strategies for out of school time.
  • Investing in sports tourism by purchasing sports courts and basketball hoops.
  • Implementing a new Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) that allows constituents to report problems and receive real-time updates on the progress of their requests.
  • Creating a kayak launch on the Elk River—expanding recreational opportunities.
  • Repairing lights along the Kanawha Boulevard.
  • Launching the 2020 Charleston Walks program—bringing city government to the people.
  • Purchasing additional body cameras and the equipment necessary to keep them up to date and charged for the Charleston Police Department.
  • Restarting the City’s summer youth jobs program.
  • Allocating monies to the Rainy Day Fund.


The full text (as prepared) of Mayor Goodwin’s State of the City address can be found below:

One year ago, we stood together with members of Council and pledged to work every day to create a safe, healthy and vibrant city. 


Together, we tried new things--a lot of new things. And although we experienced some missteps along the way, we did so always with the goal of elevating our city and her people.  


Through budget deficits, crumbling infrastructure, and even two tornados,  we approached 2019 with unbounded optimism. 


We now believe we have set the city on the right course for growth and prosperity.  


Without question, the accomplishments of the past year belong to those in this room and so many others. 


It is because of the amazing team assembled at City Hall, the Directors and teams we have positioned throughout the City, and the Council Members led by President Becky Ceperely, that we have--together--created a positive momentum of change. 


Most important, we are making progress because of the renewed spirit and passion of our communities. 


The very act of giving this address is intended to be reflective of our continued commitment to accountability, transparency and engagement.


One year ago, we made sure that every Council Meeting was available to the public, online and live, as it is right now.


When my kids were little, teaching them manners was a daily struggle. 


We would remind them when someone gives you something--you say THANK YOU. And when you ask for something, you say PLEASE. 


For a very long time they would get the two confused and would cover all their bases by saying one word--in every situation: “PLEASETHANKYOU.” 


So to our entire community, Council, and our City of Charleston team, PLEASETHANKYOU for an incredible year.  


  • Thank you for your leadership.  


  • Thank you for working nights, weekends and holidays. 


  • And, thank you for stepping up. 


None of us would be here without the trust and confidence that the people of Charleston placed in us. 


I know that each of us have worked the last 365 days to continue to earn that trust and confidence. 


We have fostered great relationships with our neighbors--folks who also share the same vision and are helping to revitalize our City with us.  


We’ve joined forces with Charleston’s university--the University of Charleston.  


We saw the inauguration of its new president, Dr. Marty Roth. His new student led initiative, “UC’s Labor of Love,” benefitted Charleston as hundreds of students joined us to clean and beautify our City. 


We continue to work diligently with leadership at BridgeValley Community & Technical College on their plans to renovate the former Stone & Thomas building for its new, expanded downtown campus. 


A move like this would bring more than 1,000 students to our downtown and provide new workforce opportunities.


We are thrilled to have West Virginia University expand its College of Law, Extension Service and John C. Chambers College of Business and Economics in the heart of downtown. 


We’ve established a wonderful partnership with Huntington Bank. Chad Prather, the Regional President of Huntington Bank is here with us tonight. Chad, thank you and your team for investing in new outdoor basketball courts at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.


We’ve fostered great partnerships with the State, including: 


  • The Division of Highways, which worked with us on paving Oakwood Road and continues to work with us on re-imagining Slack Plaza downtown through the award of grant funding, 


  • The Department of Environmental Protection, which worked side-by-side with us every single day of our city-wide Team Up to Clean Up,


  • And the Purchasing Division, which helped us acquire two new fire trucks at a 10 percent cost savings.


The Kanawha County Commission worked with us on major projects including collaboration on the Atlas Building, supporting efforts to obtain funding to improve Barlow Drive, and providing direct funding for equipment to our first responders. 


We work side-by-side everyday with amazing community service agencies like the Kanawha Valley Collective, Covenant House and the United Way. 


We hired the first ever homeless outreach coordinator, Kevin Johnson, who works day and night with our police department and social service agencies to assist those who are experiencing homelessness.  


Hiring Kevin was a huge first step in formulating a comprehensive plan aimed at helping those in our community who need our support. 


Part of that plan will include a work program for those who need and want to get back on their feet. 


This is only part of the solution. 


We must continue to address those who have come to our community with the intent of causing problems. 


To that end--this past year--in conjunction with the Charleston Police Department, we hosted the first meeting of the multi-jurisdictional Homeless Task Force with officers from around the region. 


The Charleston Police Department’s partnership with the ATF and U.S. Attorney--the only partnership of its kind // in the state--has also provided an opportunity to work collaboratively with other law enforcement agencies.


This partnership provides access to valuable tools and resources including the NIBIN technology that allows us to tap into a comprehensive nationwide ballistics database.  


We can’t have a robust, thriving city if our citizens don’t feel safe. We recognize the challenges facing our community and we are working every day to improve public safety. 


This year we’ve strengthened ordinances to support our first responders and we’ve invested in personal protective equipment. 


We’re now offering signing bonuses to attract new certified officers. 


We’ve purchased new ambulances, fire trucks, police cruisers and watercraft rescue units.  


We’ve helped our businesses downtown by providing members of our hybrid police patrol in the evening. These officers have made--and continue to make--a positive impact. 


We corrected a policy change made several years ago that penalized night shift patrol officers who were receiving two hours less in regularly-scheduled overtime than their day shift counterparts. We made it right by paying our officers what they were owed.  


We have heard from our police officers and from the community that increasing the number of body cameras, and the equipment necessary to keep them up to date and charged is something they need.  


But our first responders can’t be in all places at all times and that's why we’ve invested in: 


  • cameras in city garages, 


  • reduced speed limits, 


  • and placed life saving defibrillators at all recreational facilities.


We also need help from our citizens. We cannot address problems that are not reported and the Charleston Police Department cannot complete investigations without witnesses. Help us help you.  


We created a team of professionals who are center focused on developing solutions to tackle addiction crippling our families and our community.  


We hired the first Coordinated Addiction Response Effort (CARE) Director. 


Emily Hanna will help lead the charge for the city and will work hand in glove with the members of the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute (WV DII) led by Dr. Susan Bissett and Dr. Ed Welch. 


The partnership between CARE and WV DII will help coordinate, enhance and expand efforts to address the impacts of substance use disorder on individuals, families and communities.


We secured more than $800,000--this year--in grant monies to improve and expand our Quick Response Team’s (QRT) efforts.  


And in November, we hired the City’s first full-time QRT Coordinator, Shikeal Harris. 


The outreach conducted by the QRT offers a stern, yet compassionate response to those who have overdosed.  


Working in coordination with the Fire Department and the Police Department, our QRT’s ability to connect individuals with support plays a vital role in addressing the opioid epidemic. 


Our QRT members, like so many of our families, know what it is like to lose someone from addiction. 


Let’s call upon one another to show compassion and support. 


Emily and Shikeal, Dr. Bissett and Dr. Welch will you please stand and allow us to thank you for your commitment and passion for helping. 


Growing new businesses and supporting entrepreneurs is a passion of mine. 


I’ve owned my own business and I’m the daughter of a small business owner. 


This year we will work collaboratively with Advantage Valley, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, and the University of Charleston, to make our community even more of a place where people can create and grow a new business. 


Tonight, I am delighted to have a young Charleston entrepreneur, Kayla Lewis of Sweet Day Treats with us. 


Kayla owns and operates her own business. 


She is in the sixth grade at John Adams Middle School and swims with the Little Creek Penguins. 


Kayla, would you please stand so we can congratulate you on another successful year in business! 


I invite everyone to join us outside of Chambers, after Council concludes, for a sample of Kayla’s Sweet Day Treats. 


Being a good neighbor is as important as fostering good relationships with neighbors. And the benefits can be far reaching.


Our administration continues to be committed to listening to what the people of Charleston want and need from their government.  


You can’t do that behind a desk. 


That’s why we hosted and continue to host our “Here to Serve” events. 


We’ve connected one-on-one with hundreds of constituents to troubleshoot their problems. 


But we can’t just wait for problems to come to us--we must proactively look for what we might need to do next. 


Over the past year I have continued to walk door-to-door--holding in depth conversations with our neighbors. 


There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction.


In February we are launching the 2020 Charleston Walks program which will bring our team and City Council Members to your doorstep. 


One of the biggest inefficiencies we’ve found is the City’s ability to effectively process constituent concerns.


After months of development, coordination and training, we are launching a new customer service management system that will create a one-stop shop for residents to communicate with the City and track their requests. 


Not only will we be more accountable to the public, we will be better equipped to do the job in which we were elected to do, and that’s respond efficiently to our constituents. 


I know Council Member Jeanine Faegre takes pride in responding quickly to her constituents. 


This new system will better help her and fellow Council Members get information to their neighbors.  


We believe it’s our responsibility to be accountable and accessible to everyone and that includes our Charleston businesses. 


Last March, we began walking from business to business asking owners and entrepreneurs how we can best help them thrive. The feedback has been essential. 


One constant was the frustration experienced by business owners starting a business: What forms do I use? Who do I call? Where do I find business related information?  Do I work with the City, the State or both? 


That’s why we have developed a business checklist that will help address these questions and provide other important information for folks wanting to open a business in Charleston. 

As we continue to improve processes for our local businesses, we also plan to replace our current Revenue Tracking System which is old and limited in function. 

A new, modern system will allow for a more accurate accounting of funds and less hassle for the taxpayer.


Working with members of Council we have formed a business incentives select committee determined to help businesses thrive.  


I look forward to seeing the results of this group’s passion and collaboration. 


There’s nothing more fulfilling than working side-by-side fellow community members--just as we did during the city-wide clean up. 


You asked us to help clean up this city--and we did. 


We’re not done, though. 


We collected--in just four Saturdays--more than 42 tons of trash, completed eight art projects and  beautified our Parks & Recreation Centers.  


In addition, the City gave away close to 1,000 truckloads of compost to help folks with their own beautification and landscaping projects.  


We showed our youth--through actions and not just words--we wanted them to have a seat at the table.  


The young people joining the inaugural Youth Council are just a handful of the doers, the thinkers, the dreamers and the believers.


They are engaged in what’s happening in our communities.  


They have a say.  They have a budget.  And, they have our full support. 


Members of the Charleston Youth Council, please stand to be recognized. 


We are also working with state and local leaders to restart the City’s summer youth jobs program--leveraging public and private resources.  


Summer job opportunities can help our young people develop important teamwork skills, foster a greater sense of community and provide a platform for being recognized and rewarded for their input. 


Providing our City’s youngsters with safe, nurturing and enriching out of school time positively impacts their well-being and academic success.  


We have many after school opportunities throughout our city, but more are needed. I want to applaud the afterschool programs that are being driven by Loren Farmer at the Bob Burdette Center. 


Loren has a passion for making sure every child in need has access to the full benefits a strong afterschool program provides.  


Loren joined me during a Statewide Leadership Roundtable on Afterschool and Summer Learning I was asked to co-chair in October.  


This diverse group of stakeholders will be working, this year, to outline best practices to expand after school programs, find additional resources and help ensure that no child is turned away. 


We invested in our Parks and Recreation system by adding more equipment and expanding places for our kids to play. 


We created new policies in our centers to help ensure a secure check-in, installed new lighting in the parking areas, introduced a lunch program and expanded free summer programs for our kids.  


We revived many of our community parks--like Dixie Street on the East End and Hunter Park in Kanawha City.


We made recycling easier by not requiring plastic bags.


And now because of a grant we wrote and were awarded, we are launching a robust campaign to better educate the public about what can be recycled.


Thank you, Council Member John Bailey, for helping us construct a better and more cost-effective way to increase our city-wide recycling efforts. 


We have and will continue to capitalize on the diversity of our talented people by bringing them together to encourage inclusiveness in the development of new policies.   


We reminded everyone that Y’all Does Mean All for this administration. We created the first ever LGBTQ Working Group and we increased our Municipal Equality Index score to the highest it’s ever been--jumping 26 points in our first year. 


Thank you to Billy Wolfe, chair of our working group.  He joins us tonight. 


As with any large project, there are decision-points along the way.  


Sometimes you discover unexpected problems.


We simply could not fix everything at once, but we made great strides.


We filled a $3 million dollar deficit: 


  • without any new taxes, 


  • without cutting essential services--including police and fire,


  • and without using one-time money. 


We created new inventory requirements. 


We implemented new purchasing policies and a local vendor preference.


We implemented policies to increase competition allowing for lower costs for goods and services. 


We revamped the petty cash system--because to us--every dollar matters. 


We kept our promise to create a budget that reflects the priorities of our citizens, while living within our means.  


I want to thank Finance Chair Joe Jenkins for moving these cost saving policies forward and always having the City's best interest in mind.


We came into office with community-focused goals, strategic initiatives and forward thinking policies we wanted to see come to fruition. 


We also came in with the understanding that it was our responsibility to help ensure our City’s financial stability--now and into the future. 


In order to address the substantial problems we faced upon taking office, some of our dreams and goals for the City had to be postponed.


Many of the things we have done to make our City run more efficiently and effectively never made front-page news--the planning and structural work.   


Without question, what our team did--addressing foundational issues --is what I am most proud of this year.


While cost reduction was key in securing financial stability, making sure the City maintained a fair and equitable collection system for everyone was part of our blended approach to financial strength. 


Because of work by every single department, and through the leadership of City Manager Jonathan Storage, we have cut expenses resulting in an overall savings which provides us the opportunity to immediately invest in priority projects and save for future projects.


We believe the city should invest wisely with the unassigned fund balance we have worked to create. 


This includes allocating monies to the City’s savings accounts, especially the Rainy Day Fund. 


Simply put, investing in the Rainy Day Fund when the City is able to do so makes incredibly good financial sense. 


We always need to save, but we need to put more aside when we’re able. 


When the tornadoes touched down, we learned that we need to have the financial resources for unanticipated events. 


Allocating monies to a contingency account within the General Fund would allow our departments to draw upon these funds in emergencies. 


Infrastructure has been a top priority for us and will continue to be a top priority.  


If there is one piece of thanks we hear more than any other it is the commitment we’ve had to infrastructure improvements-- especially the amount of paving that has been done this past year. 


Yes, we doubled the paving budget--paving nearly 17 miles--but more needs to be done. 


Using unassigned fund balance monies--this year--will take us another step forward in improving more of our roads. 


We continue to be aggressive in making the City of Charleston ADA compliant through the installation of 145 curb ramps,  creation of more handicap parking spaces, and provide better accessibility in all of our city buildings. 


The Kanawha Boulevard is one of our City’s greatest assets. 


Due to lack of upkeep and replacement, those beautiful tall lights that line the river are at risk of falling down. 


This is a critical infrastructure project that will need to be done over the next few years--but we need to start now. 


We believe an allotment out of the unassigned fund balance will help us tackle the most urgent need. 


This year, we established the Charleston Land Reuse Agency (CLRA) and Vacant Structure Registry, a key part of our long-term vision to improve housing and community space in Charleston.  


The integrated strategy will begin to address the needs and challenges of the City’s distressed neighborhoods and revitalize housing. 


We are already seeing some early benefits. Private developers have plans to build or renovate hundreds of housing units in our city. 


And, we have seen a significant uptick in the number of building permits to renovate existing homes. 


Complementing these efforts, is access to open recreation space. 


Just last month we had the great fortune of accepting the largest land gift the City has ever received. 


The Herbert and Gloria Jones Woodlands will provide folks another opportunity to enjoy our City’s natural beauty.


An additional investment from the unassigned fund balance will allow the CLRA to partner with local nonprofits to renovate property and get it back into productive use. 


It will also allow the CLRA to create innovative programs to help jumpstart private renovations of property and take other necessary steps toward rebuilding our communities. 


While we are committed to building our City back up, we know not every house or structure can be rehabilitated. 


For the past several years the City’s Building Department has been woefully underfunded in their efforts to tear down these abandoned properties that have hurt our neighborhoods.


This past year we have demolished close to 100 structures, but more need to be torn down. 


Monies from the unassigned fund balance will help--this year--in continuing this part of our neighborhood revitalization initiatives. 


Building up our neighborhoods is just as critical as building up the vitality of our business districts. 


Downtown Charleston will see an uptick as more than $50 million in investment projects get underway:


  • Expansion of the library,


  • Renovation of the B&B Loans and Atlas buildings, 


  • And demolition and construction on the Sears Department Store property. 


As my good friend and business owner Chuck Hamsher says, “There are good things happening in Charleston.” 


Nearly six years ago, when the Freedom Industries chemical spill impacted our City’s water, it threatened to shutter numerous businesses, discouraged travelers from visiting, and negatively impacted residents.  


As part of the class action settlement, the City received money we believe should be used to address those very harms. 


We propose creating a new Business Economic Impact Fund and dedicate substantial funding toward helping businesses with things like facade grants, micro grants, sidewalk repairs, and other project-based needs. 


We also need to invest in sports tourism in this City and the purchase of sport courts and basketball hoops which will allow us to market to regional and national sports tournaments.


Hosting these events at the Coliseum and Convention Center will result in a significant return on investment for our City.   


We live in a river city--and we should provide access to the river for recreation. 


A kayak launch in the city, on the Elk, across from the new Coliseum and Convention Center makes good sense. 


With direct access and available parking, it would be an incredible opportunity to get folks out enjoying the river. 


And finally, we must invest in the rebranding and marketing of our Capital City and its critical assets. 


We have all enjoyed the beautiful new renovations to the Coliseum and Convention Center. It was a major investment by our taxpayers to build. 


But we believe, building it--and filling it--should require the same amount of gusto, time and attention. 


We now need to invest in making sure every inch of that beautiful building is used--every single day. 


Working with our new Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau Director  Tim Brady and directing funds to enhance the quantity but most important the quality of conventions, concerts and special events will significantly help travel and tourism. 


We know that planning for our future will also require ongoing collaboration with the State Legislature. 


With that in mind, I met earlier today with members of the Charleston delegation and sought their support for some of our legislative initiatives.


More importantly I sought their commitment to listen with a keen ear to all proposals that cross their desks and think about how each will impact Charleston. 


This state will not thrive without a successful Charleston. 


New laws that help us will also help other municipalities and benefit the state as a whole. 


This is why I have asked our legislative leaders to support bills that will:


  • level the playing field for local businesses, 


  • allow cities to better address abandoned and neglected properties, 


  • and increase our opportunities to improve public safety. 


We have pledged our support at the Legislature to help advance these proposals.


There is still much work to be done.


Looking back on our efforts in just 365 days--I’m incredibly proud. 


We have all made tremendous progress. 


But make no mistake, we still face serious challenges--including issues that will need addressed in the new budget cycle. 


A focus on public safety, economic development, pot-hole free roads, parks and youth activities will lead our community into 2020. 


And in the year 2020, we will actually enjoy 366 days of hard work.


Thank you for allowing us to serve you, and this city we love so very much.