COLUMN: Community leaders gather, applaud mayor’s final State of the City

Mayor Chuck Bennett gives his final State of the City address on Feb. 9, 2022 at Salem Convention Center (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Mayor Chuck Bennett gave his 6th State of the City Address on Feb. 9 at the Salem Convention Center. Over 150 people attended this event put on by a partnership between the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, the Salem City Club, and Rotary Club of Salem. Guests had lunch or could just watch “masked” from individual seats set up in the back.

The event attracted leaders from all parts of the community. Members of the Grand Ronde, Denise Harvey and Chris Mercier, attended, as did District Attorney Paige Clarkson, Police Chief Trevor Womack, and Fire Chief Mike Niblock.

Marion County Commissioners Danielle Bethell, Colm Willis, and Kevin Cameron attended, as did Polk County Commissioners Lyle Mordhorst and Jeremy Gordon. Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark and former Mayor Anna Peterson were also present. 

Chane Griggs, president of Salem Rotary, recognized Salem City Club’s leader Ron Eachus and Salem Chamber CEO Tom Hoffert.

The meeting opened with music from Sprague High School’s String Quartet, coordinated by Lisa Rael. They played one of the selections from the “Finale” of Edvard Grieg’s String Quartet, composed in 1877.

Rotarian Renee Campbell provided inspirational thoughts for the meeting. She shared a reading from J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Griggs introduced Mayor Bennett, mentioning his extension credentials and their affinity for Cincinnati chili. Bennett plans to relocate to Ohio after his term concludes at the end of this year.

In his 50-minute presentation, the mayor said the state of the city is “good.” He recalled the ice storm that happened just a year ago, causing the most tree damage since the Columbus Day storm of 1964.  The audience applauded Mark Becktel, City of Salem Parks and Transportation Services Manager, for his work after the storm.

The mayor recognized city councilor Jose Gonzales from Ward 5, who attended on behalf of the council. Gonzales started his term in office in 2021 and has spent 23 years with Tu Casa Real Estate. Bennett introduced his department heads. He complimented Steve Powers, outgoing city manager, calling him “outstanding.”

Bennett covered multiple topics, focusing on those without shelter, policing, and the economy. He emphasized the needs of the city’s fire department. He reported that the fire chief has “sounded the alarm” about how the agency needs more resources to meet the response requirements set by the council. 

Mayor Bennett concluded his speech by thanking the city for his 15 years and encouraging people to enter public service. He received a standing ovation.

You can read about the Mayor’s speech in a Salem Report article by Saphara Harrell here.

If you miss the speech on Salem cable access channel CCMedia, you can watch it online on YouTube or read it here.

Mary Louise VanNatta is a Salem public relations professional writing regularly for Salem Reporter. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on Facebook.

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