At a time when one in every five Patterson residents is unemployed, when the number of homeless people on the streets is climbing, when property crimes continue to keep locals on edge — people need to hear that city leaders empathize with their struggles and desire solutions.
The city has made tremendous progress during the past couple of years, and Molina’s intention to focus on the positive is commendable, but Patterson faces tremendous challenges.
The speech left out details about pressing needs facing the city, particularly when it comes to public safety.
While it was wonderful to hear about increased involvement in Neighborhood Watch programs and people giving more tips to police via the Crime Stoppers line, most residents would say it does not tell the whole story when it comes to safety.
Police have complained of challenges stemming from a state law that shifted many inmates from state to county control. Merely “focusing on what is right with our community and not the negative” will not make those problems go away.
Those issues should be thoroughly discussed during the town hall meetings Molina plans to host with other community members.
To be fair, the mayor’s speech this year was scheduled earlier than in the past, so he did not have the benefit of details from police Chief Tori Hughes’ annual report on public safety matters.
In addition, Molina did caution the public against complacency, and he did note the funding difficulties the city has faced since the elimination of redevelopment agencies by the state.
The mayor should be commended for deciding to host community gatherings, and we urge members of the public to get involved as more details about those meetings become available. He has also done a fine job of building relationships with school district officials and community organizations.
And Molina did well to praise the many local volunteer groups and city staff members who have worked diligently to improve this community. That includes City Manager Rod Butler, who was rightly praised for his hard work on behalf of the city during the past two years.
Indeed, in many ways Molina was correct in saying the future looks bright for the city of Patterson. But the city has obstacles to overcome, too, and our leaders should not shy away from them when discussing the state of the city.
All the best to city officials in the coming year as they seek to address those challenges and help Patterson reach its true potential.