Durham's Mayor Focuses On Crime Solutions In Speech
Posted January 17, 2006 9:55 a.m. EST
DURHAM, N.C. — Durham's cityscape is changing. Retail sales grew 8 1/2 percent in 2005, and confidence in city administration is at an all-time high. But in his State of the City address, Mayor Bill Bell summarized the latter quickly to get right to the heart of the matter.
"What I want to do tonight is spend a majority of my time on what I feel is the one area that prevents us from being an excellent city, and that is the issue of crime," said Bell.
The mayor said the murder rate grew by 16 percent in the past year, with 37 homicides.
"I'm calling on our citizens to make a commitment to become a mentor," said Bell.
Suggested solutions included volunteerism, more drug-treatment centers, and a large-scale campaign to remove illegal guns from the streets.
"And specifically, to make getting guns out of the hands of our young people a top priority," said Bell.
But Bell said all of his recommendations will require partnerships in every corner of the city and the county.
"To me, the solution lies within us," he said. "It's a problem that will require the community to take ownership."
"I was pleased he was positive and not overly optimistic," said Durham resident Pamela Cherry.
"Durham right now is leading with criminal activity, so I'm not surprised and it needed to be addressed," said resident Elder Allen Gattis.
Another of the city's great successes, according to Bell, was getting a $110 million bond passed for vital improvements like water, sewer, parks and recreation. This was the mayor's fourth State of the City address since becoming mayor in 2001.