From the Mayor

2019 State of the City.A month ago, as I wrote this column, we were just beginning to realize how serious coronavirus had become. We were looking everywhere for hope, for signs that it would ease soon, for a vaccine, a treatment, a way to stop the spread. We looked to health professionals, government officials, our employers, friends, family and neighbors. Now, it’s time to look forward.

After more than a month of lockdowns, sheltering-in-place, and caring for each other the best we can from a distance, we’re starting to understand how to respond out of something other than fear. We’re learning who is most vulnerable, and how to protect them. We’re learning how to put some things back into our lives after so much has been taken away. But we still have to be careful, and we have to be very, very intentional.

When Governor Kemp issued his shelter-in-place order back on April 2, he left room for most businesses to continue to operate at a “Basic Minimum” level. Now, at the end of April, he has issued strict guidelines under which most of the businesses he forced to close entirely can begin to re-open. It’s an enormous political risk for him to be among the first. And it’s a risk for us as individuals too, if we choose to operate under those strict guidelines as businesses and as customers and clients of those businesses. But it’s no risk at all – it’s a near certainty – that if we go back to “normal” and ignore the fact that the virus is still among us, we’ll find ourselves suffering the consequences. It’s the reason we can begin to look forward. It’s a reason to begin thinking about the future, and how we can begin to relate to each other again. While we may have to wear face coverings or keep six feet apart or whatever else we must do for perhaps a very long time, we can begin to think about seeing our parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren again. We can imagine meals together, outings together, maybe even a Braves or Bulldogs game!

We’re looking forward as a city government too. All through this crisis, our dedicated staff and council have been devoting themselves to continuing the daily work of the City, keeping the parks open and operating, issuing permits and licenses, paving roads and building sidewalks. And we’ve been planning a post-virus future.

On May 8, I’ll deliver the State of the City address as scheduled, if not as planned. It won’t be in front of an audience, but live-streamed for anyone who wants to watch. And it will be about looking forward. Forward to getting back to business. Forward to getting back to living. Forward to the great things we will do together.

The State of the City is literally about the state we find ourselves in, and our current state is neither normal nor permanent. This one time a year, we talk about where we’ve been and where we’re going. We assess our assets and liabilities, and how to best deploy them for everyone’s benefit. We’ve got a lot to look forward to, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.


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