TEXT OF SIMMONS INAUGURATION SPEECH
Delivered January 2, 2016
E.E. Bass Cultural Arts Center
WORKING TOGETHER AS ONE
I am truly honored and humbled for the support of so many of you and for the support of this community and for the opportunity to serve the great city of Greenville.
We Are One.
First, I thank God for using me as a vessel to do His will. I would like to thank my lovely wife, Temika, for her unwavering love and support. I am grateful for our two children. Lil Errick, I thank you for an outstanding welcome and for being the greatest son in the world. And our daughter, Eriel, who at the age of 2, has become a regional radio personality with her famous declaration, “My daddy is a good daddy to me. My daddy will be a good mayor to you.” To my mother, who represents the heart of Greenville and the soul of my father. I love you and today is only a reflection of the sacrifices, beliefs, and values you and daddy implanted in me. I know my daddy is watching from above. I am forever grateful to him for his inspiration to me to be the best person that I can be and for instilling in me the ideal that when you are blessed with much, you must give back to the community that has given so much to you. To the rest of my family, thank you for your continued love and support. But above all, I give thanks to the residents of the City of Greenville. Your spirit of togetherness evidences a true unified effort to change the course of Greenville.
The strength of our city lies in our willingness and ability to work together on critical areas for the success of Greenville. To make Greenville all it can be, there are several areas that demand our attention.
- Economic Development
- Public Safety
- Parks and Recreation
- Downtown Revitalization/Port and Levee Front
In economic development, together, we will create new jobs, sustain existing jobs, and expand opportunity so it reaches person in every corner of our city. Working together with our economic development professionals along with our county, state, and federal officials, we will create an Entrepreneurship, Start Up and Incubator Program, improve workforce development skills, create effective feeder programs with colleges and universities, and host the first ever Mississippi Delta Jobs Summit. We all know the vitality of a city depends on the number of jobs opportunities available for its residents. Our primary focus in the next four years will be jobs, jobs, jobs.
No community can be successful unless it is safe. We must work together to reduce crime by developing community policing and restorative justice programs that will build strong community and police relations. We must effectively work with our community partners and agencies to address the causes of crime like drugs, mental health, gangs, and poverty. More importantly, we must provide our police officers with more training and the latest technology so we can all sleep well at night knowing they will be safe while keeping us safe.
Education is the cornerstone for so many things in Greenville. When you think about economic development, health, tourism, and public safety, they all have an educational component. Our kids do not deserve another day in this city where they are placed last behind items. Every kid in Greenville deserves a great education that will make him or her competitive with other students across the world. In education, we will work together with public, private, and parochial school administrators, community stakeholders, and students to ensure that the city is providing all the resources at its disposal to assist with achieving safer schools and higher academic standards. With the establishment of the public-private-parochial school roundtable discussion, we will develop a unified high-achieving education system in Greenville.
Parks and Recreation
Together, we will develop more recreational facilities and activities for our youth understanding if we keep them busy, the streets can’t get them. Our number 1 investment must be in our children. All of us play a role in the education and future success of our children.
Downtown Revitalization/Port and Levee Front
In order to have a sustainable community, we must revitalize and restore our downtown. Successful cities have successful downtowns. The implementation of the City’s 25-year plan is crucial in order to spur further development downtown. Together, we must continue port and levee front development, expansion, and utilization and start open air concerts at our Shelben Park to bring the community and tourists to the water downtown. Speaking of tourists, just a few months ago the 38th Annual Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival, Mighty Mississippi Music Festival, and the Hot Tamale Festival were all in Greenville, bringing people from all over the world to our area by plane, car, and yes, cruise ship. Together, we can get the number of people visiting our city to increase and become one of the leading tourist cities in the region. Together, we will move Greenville forward in these areas. In addition, there are several other areas that require our attention to be successful.
The need for better roads and streets with improved sewer and water lines is long-overdue. Together, we will develop a top-rate infrastructure plan for water and sewer lines.
Our seniors are important and we must gain a better understanding of the needs of our seniors.
We must create more affordable housing options for our teachers, janitors, fire fighters, seniors, and other working families in Greenville.
Arts are key to the success of Greenville, and we must work together to grow and expand the arts in education and other areas in the city. I think it’s safe to say that our area has a rich blues heritage. Names like Mississippi Slim, Son Thomas, BB King, and Eden Brent create a feeling inside your soul that is indescribable, electric, and authentic. No, all these people are not from Greenville, but I consider myself a regionalist. I appreciate the value that Greenville brings to this unique culture and I want other Greenvillians to embrace our immensely unique and internationally renowned way of life through the arts.
Together, we must work as One to accomplish this One Greenville vision. Together, we must work harder than ever to restore trust where it is broken and opportunity where it is lost. We Are One. For Greenville to become the City she deserves to be, We Are One must become a way of life. Despite the challenges we face, our hope is alive and our faith overcomes any challenge as we know that “this city can change the world, one step at a time, one goal, one voice, one song, in harmony we can’t go wrong.” We cannot endure as a city of haves and have-nots. We cannot tolerate racial injustice and discrimination in any form has not place. Whether you are white, black, rich, poor, young, old, Democrat, Republican, Baptist, Catholic, gay or straight, We Are One must become a reality for all of us. The white female student at Greenville High School must know that We Are One. The black male student at Washington School must know that We Are One. The single mother with two jobs and four kids must know that We Are One. The job seeker who wants a living wage must know that We Are One. The business owner or employer who opposes increasing the minimum wage must know that We Are One. The convicted felon that returns home to get a new lease on life must know that We Are One. Today, I challenge every citizen of this great city. You must do your part. Join with me in living a We Are One life. Join with me in being proud of a We Are One community. Join me in promoting and marketing a We Are One Greenville.
This is my city.
This is your city.
This is our city.
One People. One Goal. One Greenville.
Let’s move forward by Working Together As One.
Thank You. God bless you. And may God bless Greenville, Mississippi.