December 8, 2022 marked two years as mayor of my hometown—the halfway point in my first term. I ran for mayor to bring what I learned in my career in the private sector and as a school board member to City Hall. The skills I honed over years of work in Riverside and beyond have been part of an important tool chest needed to bring about positive change. But I know change takes time—it often moves much slower than many of us would like. Now, two years in and on the heels of a pandemic, I am proud to say that we are making progress and bringing about important change in areas where Riverside has fallen short in the past. We do this by working with broad coalitions: government leaders at all levels, business partners, and concerned community members all seeking to deliver results that represent who we are and who we want to be.
Our work over this past year has contributed to the passage of one of the most significant mental health laws in generations—CARE Court—which is designed to take on the visible scourge of mental illness that we see on our streets every day. Riverside and all of California are facing a humanitarian crisis when it comes to homelessness and mental health. It is simply unacceptable to ignore it by not providing these individuals with professionals and services that help spur the process of rehabilitation.
Additionally, my office received a $4.4 million grant to establish a Youth Job Corps within the city which will increase employment for underserved youth, develop meaningful public service career pathways, and enhance the capacity of local governments to address challenges. Complimenting the Youth Job Corps well is our new partnership with DoorDash to bring food to struggling families and seniors. Riverside will be able to leverage DoorDash data to help identify areas of the highest food insecurity.
Like last year, Team Lock Dawson has launched and continued major initiatives that demonstrate our care for veterans, the importance of keeping our city attractive, and our commitment to the next generation of Riversiders. In doing so, we refurbished our Military Wall of Honor within five months, raising $200,000 in private donations while also establishing an endowment fund for future maintenance. We launched Beautify Riverside and have hosted nine community cleanups and installed ten new murals across the city since July. We also launched Campus Riverside, which is an initiative that I am confident will inspire our local college students to pursue a career and raise a family in Riverside while contributing to our local economy.
I will also reemphasize: no doubt there is more work that needs to be done in many areas. And while I am heartened by the physical progress, we see in our community with the opening of long-awaited developments such as The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, The Mark, and the Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California, or with more road repaving being completed this year than any year in the past decade, I am eager to do more. We need more business and housing development, more work on homelessness, more police officers to assist with rises in crime, more innovation to grow our economy, and more entertainment and recreational opportunities to keep us excited about life in Riverside.
A better Riverside is always on the horizon, and when I look around our great city, I see opportunity and Riversiders who embody the spirit and ingenuity that will propel us into a new era of prosperity. Together, we will face our challenges – we already have done so in many ways. But if we stay focused, if we are united in a collective effort, we can turn those challenges into triumphs.