Posted on February 19, 2020
DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) -- Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley acknowledged the challenging year the city just went through and compared it to other high-profile tragedies and challenges throughout the years, such as the Great Dayton Flood of 1913.
She said the city overcame those challenges and it will overcome the challenges of the present.
She mentioned the community's opposition to a KKK-affiliated rally, the support and healing in the wake of the Memorial Day tornadoes and Oregon District shooting and the loss of Dayton Police Detective George Del Rio, who was killed in the line of duty.
"Our community has responded to all of these events of last year with so much courage, grit and resiliency. It has been simply amazing to see so much beauty from our response," Whaley said. "Dayton has done what Dayton does best: We took care of each other."
The mayor said much still needs to be done in the wake of the recent tragedies.
"As a community we have a great deal of healing to do. Rebuilding our city physically and emotionally will take a long time," she said. "But this year I want us to intentionally focus on how we heal together."
She said the city in the next few weeks will roll out "Dayton Stronger," a campaign that will celebrate and build upon the city's resiliency.
Daytonstronger.org will aggregate many resources into a single platform.
The community needs to realize the mental health impacts from the recent tragedies, she said. She also said gun violence is far too common in Dayton. The mayor mentioned gun crimes that had happened before the Oregon District shooting, which she said barely made the news.
"Gun violence has become too routine in too much of our city. And just as much as the high-profile tragic events of last year, regular gun violence causes wide-spread trauma and pain," Whaley said.
She said the city piloted a program last year to focus on a public health approach to inspire progress in ending gun violence. She said early results are encouraging and the program will likely expand to more parts of the city in 2020.
"I'm happy to be working with Gov. DeWine and a bipartisan group of mayors and legislators to pass gun safety reforms in the state of the Ohio," Whaley said. "The bill is not perfect and I know it does not go far enough to end gun violence in our communities. But this is an important first step."
However, she said that if legislators refuse to act, advocates for gun reform would take the issue directly to voters.
She said the big news events of 2019 overshadowed some progress that was made in the city. Preschool Promise and neighborhood revitalization were among two of those subjects.
Whaley said that Dayton acted following the devastation of the 1913 flood.
"Instead of shying away from the hard work of fixing the city, Daytonians came together," Whaley said. They kept the promises they made themselves during the tragedy.
"Today, we must do the same, for the love of Dayton," Whaley said. "We are a resilient city. We came back stronger in 1913 and we will come back stronger in 2020. It will not be easy, it will not be quick. But together, we can keep the promises we made to one another last year."
The mayor ended the speech with: "Dayton, we can do anything, if we do it together."