Wilmington mayor gives State of the City address

WILMINGTON — Monday evening Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo gave his first State of the City address, telling City Council members and citizens about his initiatives for 2007. Two of the biggest and most talked about issues were the convention center and the City’s sewer system.

"I want to take a moment to look back at the past year and reflect on our successes, as well as the challenges that lay ahead," Saffo said.

Saffo says one of those challenges is the City’s infrastructure, and what he says is the City’s biggest problem within that: repairing the City’s sewer system. It’s a project he says could take up to ten years, but one the mayor is dedicated to fixing.

"We are going to spend whatever money we have to, and we are going to do whatever we have to, to get the system fixed," Saffo said.

The sewer system is also a topic that brought citizen’s out to hear what the mayor had to say.

"One of the biggest problems is the sewer situation. That’s on everybody’s mind," Wilmington resident Bunky Bruce said.

Despite the current problems with sewer lines residents say under Mayor Saffo’s leadership the City is headed in the right direction.

"We understand what he’s doing, his philosophy and thought process is correct. And he’s bringing the people and the talent to resolve this problem," Bruce said.

Another topic that was on the minds of attendees was the convention center, a project that’s been decades in the making, but not one that’s come without it’s critics. Saffo said the project will create 1,200 jobs and bring more than half a million dollars in tax revenue to the City — figures that people say are encouraging.

"Everything he said sounded really positive, and we are a growing City so changes have to happen," Wilmington resident Peggy Pavell said.

When asked to rate living in Wilmington on a scale of one to ten, one resident said, "Seven, and that’s being optimistic. But I’d say overall this is a great place to live."

For the most part citizens say they are happy with the job the mayor is doing so far and are encouraged by his State of the City address.

"I think it went very well," Wilmington resident Ilsa Henagan said. "I think he did a great job."

Mayor Saffo says the next step after the State of the City is putting the initiatives in to effect as quickly as possible. He says the only way to do that is through a strong partnership between City Council members, the county and the state. Saffo says another problem he will tackle in the coming year is the City’s traffic lights. In May voters passed a $5 million traffic bond to help. Saffo says he hopes to fix all the traffic lights within the next two-and-a-half years.

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