Since his first day in office, Mayor Ed Murray has talked about the need to create opportunities. Whether by increasing the minimum wage or expanding mandatory Pre-K education, the Mayor believes improving the lives of some can help elevate the quality of life for all. Creating opportunities has been at the heart of every initiative he has embraced and is also at the core of this service plan – service being the operative word.
In his February 2013 inaugural address, Mayor Murray shared his vision for Seattle: a city that is safe, affordable, vibrant, interconnected, and innovative. To realize this vision, Mayor Murray understands that we work better together than we do apart, and so volunteerism has become an integral part of how the city operates. Mayor Murray often refers to the value of service and what an honor it is to serve as a public official. These words and this sentiment have been a constant thread in every speech the Mayor has delivered and every initiative he has introduced. It is a running theme, in both word and in action.
Mayor Murray understands that government cannot do everything for everyone and neither can community groups, but together the possibilities are endless. Partnerships between public and private entities elevate the good work being done by all and help make cities like Seattle better and stronger. Partnerships can be a powerful combination, and that is where the challenge comes in. When more of us get involved, we create more opportunities to generate and elevate high-quality work that supports Seattle’s advancement as a national leader in innovative service delivery. We know Seattle residents are resourceful.
We know we have volunteers throughout this city giving their time, talent, and treasures to make Seattle an even better place to call home. What we don’t know are the specifics. How many volunteers? How many hours of service are contributed? How do people get involved? And, just as important, what impact are volunteers having on our city’s most pressing challenges?
These might seem like simple questions, yet the answers are anything but. The answers are complicated, they are uneven, they are sensitive, and, in some cases, they are unknown. Additionally, while many of the answers may be revealing and indicative of our good nature, others expose our vulnerabilities. We have spent the last year listening and learning. We’ve look at our assumptions and drilled down, trying to gain a better understanding of our volunteer landscape. We’ve looked at our resources and how we allocate and distribute them, questioning our reasoning. We’ve attended meetings, hosted events, and initiated many conversations in hopes of learning more, specifically about what communities want and need.
Although their reasons may vary, people for the most, want safe, vibrant and interconnected communities. Mayor Murray realizes that different communities have different starting points. He understands that there is a difference between equal and equitable. The latter has served as this administration’s North Star, a guiding principle that is represented in this roadmap. Acknowledging there are different needs and resources that need to be used accordingly, the Mayor has taken bold steps to address equity. This principle is at the root of the challenge to educate and empower neighborhoods and communities throughout the city. It is behind the spirit of service as we encourage participation, broaden access, and create opportunities.