PINE BLUFF, Ark. — On Thursday evening, March 14, Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington used her State of the City address to brief residents on the city's progress and urge increased unity as the community works to move forward.
“Every now and then we reach a make or break moment,” Washington said. “I believe we are in one now.”
Washington also announced her intent to run for another term as mayor – a declaration met with a standing ovation from the crowd.
“In a short two years, we have come a long way, but we have far to travel together,” Washington said leading up to the announcement.
According to Washington, graduation rates have increased in Pine Bluff. Poverty and unemployment rates have fallen, she said.
“Crime in 2018 was down 7 percent,” she said “Neighborhood association attendance is up. With your help, I will tell you Pine Bluff is moving up.”
The majority of Washington’s speech outlined the three “Pillars of Progress in Pine Bluff,” “Support our Children,” “Rebuild Pine Bluff, “ and “Revitalize our Community.”
Among the mayor’s goals for 2019 is the establishment of an action line, similar to 3-1-1 in other cities, to help resolve complaints of trash, potholes and more.
“We're getting those calls in our office right now, so we want those calls to be documented through that action line,” Washington said.
She also wants to remove the box on city job applications asking applicants if they have been convicted of a felony.
“This doesn't mean that there won't be a background check,” Washington said. “It just means you'll get more applications from people and we have to give people a second chance, and we have so many people who re-enter our city.”
“Ban the box” legislation will go before the city council on Monday, March 18.