In my 2020 State of the City, I reported that Canton was strong and making great progress. A few weeks later, we began dealing with a global pandemic. However, our City Council, staff, and police department responded by going above and beyond to move Canton forward. Together, we survived a challenging year while continuing our quest to become the "Coolest Small Town in America!"
A year ago, I was enjoying the honeymoon period after my election, but little did I know there would be a global pandemic less than three months into my administration. However, with the hard work of our team at Canton City Hall and a dedicated City Council, we not only responded to the unprecedented circumstances that defined 2020 but also managed to build great momentum for our future.
In many ways, 2020 feels like it has been the longest year ever, but in other ways, the time has flown. Much of the first two quarters was spent adjusting to the pandemic and other rapidly changing issues. Luckily, Canton is fortunate to have an agile and highly motivated team and City Council, and our work has continued.
We recently approved our 2021 Fiscal Operating Budget, maintaining a 5.40 millage rate, representing the lowest taxes since the early 1960s, and once again, the lowest of any city in Cherokee County. Even with projected shortfalls and the rebates of 2020 business license fees to local small businesses, our sound fiscal policies have prepared us for the challenges ahead.
While working from home, I overheard a gentleman on television say, “I wish I knew today what I’m going to learn tomorrow.” Without a doubt, no one could have predicted the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our lives. Just a few weeks before we began sheltering in place, I gave my State of the City address and shared my excitement for Canton’s future. While we have been thrown a curveball of historic proportions, my optimism remains intact.
The impact of this disaster cannot be underestimated. Many people are afraid and suffering. Within this uncertainty, it is human nature to assign blame or direct anger toward others. None of us have ever experienced anything like this, and we all react in different ways. Some people share frustrations on social media where it’s easy to think with their fingers before common sense catches up, hurting and offending others who are just as fragile.
As the City of Canton’s new mayor, I want to thank you for your support and wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2020. This will be a pivotal year, as we continue our positive momentum with a new City Council, a fresh perspective, and a commitment to improving the quality of life and opportunities for all our citizens. While our progress is undeniable, it will certainly take a lot of work and political will to maintain our unique small town character and charm while enhancing accessibility to the modern conveniences that have a positive impact on the ways we work, live, and play in Canton.