Citizens of Albany,
We’ve said goodbye to the tumultuous and unprecedented year that was 2020. COVID-19 has closed businesses and schools and isolated families from their loved ones. We have lost members of our community and, if projections are correct, we will likely lose more in the coming months. I sincerely hope that we can continue to be safe and slow the spread of the virus.
In May, we all witnessed the horrific murder of George Floyd on television and every social media platform. The subsequent social unrest around the country included a racial justice protest in Albany on June 4. As a result of this peaceful protest, I believe we are a better, more accepting, and informed community.
Later in the summer, wildfires ravaged Oregon displacing thousands of our friends, family, and Linn County neighbors for weeks and months. Albany’s response in support of fire evacuees was the most wonderful act of kindness I have witnessed in my lifetime. I sincerely believe Albany demonstrated that we are stronger together as one community than people separated by our differences.
We have a lot of important work to do in the coming months.
Albany is still in the midst of the pandemic and we must continue to take the necessary precautions to protect each other from continued transmission of COVID-19. We can do so by following the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). The health and safety of every one of our neighbors must take precedent over our personal or political beliefs during this time of great uncertainty.
I truly believe we must pursue various types of housing options to increase the housing inventory available for all current and future residents of Albany. The implications of not addressing our housing issues will have long-term negative effects on the growth and livability of Albany.
We must create opportunities for our “unhoused” residents to have access to the resources, services, and shelter required to begin the healing necessary to improve their quality of life. We must engage and partner with business and community leaders and non-governmental organizations to ensure our diverse community is an accepting, inclusive, and healthy place for everyone in Albany.
We must create an economic development and growth strategy to ensure Albany continues to progress and recover during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Albany must have a healthy business community comprised of businesses from multiple industries, sectors, and sizes to drive the creation of real living wage employment opportunities for our citizens.
The 2021-2023 budget process is underway. From now until the end of June, our city manager must prepare and deliver to the City Council a balanced budget for the coming biennium. The City has limited resources, and it is vitally important that we exercise good stewardship of those resources to successfully operate and deliver the services necessary to have a healthy and safe city.
I believe change is often a necessary aspect of any endeavor. Change brings about an infusion of new ideas and fresh perspectives from previously unheard voices. However, change is also difficult. I encourage you to connect with your city councilor and find out how you can participate in your local government. Your voice will help your council representative make the best possible decision on behalf of all the constituents he or she represents.
I can assure you that each member of the City Council is committed to ensuring Albany continues to be a safe and welcoming community for all who chose or will choose to call Albany home.
Lastly, I am extremely humbled to be elected Mayor of Albany. I am honored to serve as Mayor, and I solemnly commit to being an approachable, interactive, responsive, and transparent public servant for every resident of Albany.
Alexander D. Johnson II
Mayor of Albany, Oregon