Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney used her platform giving the annual State of the County Address, not to discuss the past year, but to reflect on the entire past decade, according to Syracuse.com.
Mahoney just finished her 10th year in office and expressed great pride in a number of her major accomplishments. First, her “Save The Rain” Initiative intended to clean Onondaga Lake with rain barrels, porous pavement, and other sustainable resources. There was also the 2010 sales tax agreement made with Syracuse that assisted in improving city finances as well as transitioning county social services into school facilities to increase graduation rates.
However, the main focal point of Mahoney’s speech — the effort that is “among the most important to me personally” — is the project to increase the number of minority employees working for Onondaga County. Mahoney noted that when she was elected back in 2007, only about 9.2% of employees working for the county identified themselves as minorities. That number increased to 13.6% 10 years later.
Mahoney also said that for new hires, the minority rate increased from 12% to 29% within the same decade.
“I want my kids and yours to live in a community that embraces and works toward equality for all,” she said.
Mahoney cited a number of challenges when it comes to this important effort. The first is to find a use for the Carnegie Building, a building formerly used as a downtown library. The county has owned the building since 2011.
The next challenge involves school safety. Mahoney said that William Fitzpatrick, Onondaga County District Attorney, is starting a task force dedicated to school safety in order to keep local schools safe from attacks similar to the recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Afterward, Fitzpatrick said the task force will give out “evidence-based” recommendations that local schools can either choose to implement or not. The members of the task force, which will include public officials, police officers, mental health professionals, and others, will analyze a wide range of possible advancements that can keep students and teachers safe. About 11% of adolescents have a depressive disorder by the age of 18, and these members will help both students and teachers by teaching them how to both recognize and report incidences of threatening or aggressive behavior.
Other challenges Mahoney cited involve finalizing the county plan for sustainable development as well as renegotiating the aforementioned tax-sharing agreement between the city of Syracuse.
Despite the decade Mahoney has already spent in office, she feels confident about her future endeavors.
“I feel like I’m just getting started,” she said.