One month to the day since taking office, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg delivered his first State of the City address on Thursday, declaring Louisville “strong” while announcing the creation of new city government offices.
“Today, I’m proud to say that the state of our city is strong. Our people are strong,” said Greenberg while speaking at the Americana World Community Center in South Louisville. “And while we are facing challenges, we’re also connected by our love for the city all of us here today call home.”
Here are some key takeaways and announcements from Greenberg’s speech.
New Office Of Philanthropy
Greenberg announced the creation of two new city government offices: the Office of Philanthropy and the Office of Immigrant Affairs.
The mayor said the Office of Philanthropy “will work in partnership with local and national foundations and nonprofits to coordinate strategies and investments geared towards solving some of our city’s biggest challenges.”
The first goal of the Office of Philanthropy, Greenberg said, would be to devise a plan to make universal pre-K a reality in Louisville. (Making universal pre-K accessible was a campaign promise made by Greenberg last year.)
The office will be headed by Mariana Barzun, who comes to Metro Government after serving as UofL’s co-vice president of university advancement.
New Office of Immigrant Affairs
Acknowledging that immigrants are the fastest-growing segment of Louisville’s population, Greenberg announced the creation of the Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Immigrants “make a tremendous contribution to our economy and the cultural life of our city despite dealing with legal and language hurdles the rest of us never have to consider as we do our jobs and raise our families,” said Greenberg. “Years ago, Metro Government created an office for globalization. But it’s time to refocus that office and that work to better serve and strengthen our growing immigrant community. Because that strengthens our community as a whole.”
According to the 2020 Census, 8.5% of Jefferson County’s population is foreign-born.
The new office will operate under the city’s Office of Equity and will be headed by Amos Izerimana, who is currently listed on Metro Government’s website as the program manager of the city’s Office of Globalization.
Offices of Equity and Sustainability Come Under Mayor’s Office
In his speech Thursday, Greenberg said two pre-existing departments — the Office of Equity and the Office of Sustainability — would be “elevated” to the Mayor’s Office.
“We need to factor the need for racial justice and equity into every decision we make at Metro Government,” said Greenberg of the Office of Equity. “Not during this month — which is Black History Month — but every month, every day.”
Greenberg said that work towards equity and racial justice would be “accelerated” by moving the department under the Mayor’s Office.
Similarly, the Office of Sustainability will also be brought into the Mayor’s Office going forward. Like equity, Greenberg said sustainability must be factored “into all the decisions we make at Metro Government.”
On the campaign trail, Greenberg said he would work to make the Louisville Metro Police Department the best trained, most trusted and most transparent police force in the country.
On Thursday, he re-emphasized that message, saying the city needed to continue “implementing reforms” within LMPD and support police officers with “training, recruitment, resources, compensation and leadership they need to do this incredibly difficult and important work.”
He also praised interim police chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, who took over the department on Jan. 2, saying she was doing an “outstanding” job. Speaking to LEO last month, Gwinn-Villaroel said she was interested in becoming Louisville’s permanent police chief.
The department is currently awaiting the findings of a wide-ranging DOJ investigation into LMPD launched in the wake of the killing of Breonna Taylor and months of protests in Louisville.
Despite promises of transparency, LMPD continues to routinely decline to comment on major issues (for instance, see this must-read story from our friends at Louisville Public Media about how LMPD and JCPS knew about security concerns at the bus stop where 16-year-old Tyree Smith was killed in 2021).
Promises More News Coming
While he made announcements during his State of the City address, Greenberg said people could expect more news “in the coming weeks” as well as “an even more robust agenda” when he presents his proposed budget to Metro Council in April.
Last week, Greenberg announced his administration was investing more than $30 million on plans aimed at addressing homelessness and affordable housing.
On Thursday, he acknowledged that just a month in, “some elements” of his administration’s agenda are “still taking shape.”
Among items where action remains to be seen are Greenberg’s promise to render firearms seized by police inoperable before turning them over to Kentucky State Police for auction (as is required by Kentucky law) and his plans to create an education department.
The City Is Hiring
Greenberg ended his nearly half-hour speech by inviting Louisvillians interested in public service to apply for jobs with city government agencies.
“If you or someone you know is thinking about public service, here’s what I can tell you,” he said. “I’ve been in full-time public service for a whopping one month now. It’s incredibly stimulating, challenging and important work. And there’s a sense of purpose and satisfaction when you go to work every day.”
On Thursday afternoon, the city’s career portal listed 204 open positions.