City employees and housing in Kirkland were two highlights of Mayor Penny Sweet’s first state of the city address at last week’s Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Sweet was met with a warm welcome and applause from dozens of local business owners and chamber members. This welcome was extended to numerous city and Puget Sound Energy (PSE) employees who were thanked for their above-and-beyond service during February’s “Snowmageddon.”
“This address is largely about bodies of work that we would never be able to accomplish without them,” Sweet said.
Currently, PSE employees are still working to restore power and keep the power on in many parts of Kirkland and the Eastside as a whole. Their efforts were a large highlight of last week’s chamber luncheon as some workers logged more than 80 hours of overtime during Snowmageddon.
Despite the recent complications due to the historic snowfall this month, Sweet said the state of Kirkland is “booming.” Sweet partially credited former Mayor Amy Walen with leading the way towards this boom.
“I want to express my profound appreciation and gratitude to my dear friend and representative Amy Walen for nine amazing years on this council and five incredible years as our mayor,” Sweet said. “Under her leadership, Kirkland truly became one of the best places in America to live work and play.”
Despite the growth within the city, Sweet warned that the Kirkland community must come together to find the best way to manage the boom.
“I am so confident about our future,” Sweet said. “However we cannot keep Kirkland an ‘Ozian’ Emerald City on the lake if we don’t have the brains, the heart and the courage to meet the challenges that come with all of our success…These challenges include the impacts of such explosive growth.”
Sweet emphasized that Kirkland needs to be more livable for the people who work within the city.
“With these new people come new traffic, new congestion, a high cost of living, a lack of affordable housing and an increase in homelessness,” Sweet said. “We must find a way for those who serve our community to be able to live in our community…It should not be normal or acceptable to any of us that working class men and women must commute 50 miles or more a day to get to work.”
Sweet added that the recent investment from Microsoft presents an excellent opportunity for the city to act on the goal of making Kirkland more livable for more people.
“These challenges affect everyone and they cannot be solved by just a few,” Sweet said. “We must engage everyone in our community. If we do, I believe we will be able to succeed where others are failing.”