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Welcome to the New Year—2013

Albany just finished a very challenging year, from the national elections to the local elections.  It was a year when the whole community experienced a tragedy from an unusual weather event as well as many awards and recognitions for our great City.

This past year, our nation has experienced many differences of opinion in how government should operate, and that has affected all levels of government.  These differences have caused divisions among some in our community and conflicts that may have held back some of our prosperity.

We understand people's concerns and are fortunate to have a city government that goes above and beyond to help citizens understand what we do.  Whether someone's views are different from those of a family member, friend or neighbor, we do believe everyone has a heart for their community.

Fortunately, we are coming out of one of the worst economic times most of us will ever remember.  Many households have struggled with unemployment, rising costs for everyday living, the housing market that drastically reduced the value of their homes, and declining personal assets.

A few years ago, we all wondered how long it would take to recover.  My past messages to the City were to embrace your friends and neighbors and we would overcome these hard times.

Albany has done quite well and we should reflect on the great things that we have accomplished during these lean years.  Our City established policies that prevented the loss of valuable programs and allowed us to focus on economic recovery.  During this time, we received many awards, recognitions and grants for numerous city projects; our outstanding Talking Water Gardens has won international recognition. We have greatly increased tourism and attendance at our summertime concerts has broken records.  Considering the economy, I have never been so proud of what Albany has accomplished with public and private investments that focused on the livability of our hometown.

The City Council and City staff can't take all the credit. What we have accomplished comes from our partnership with the many city board volunteers, non-profit organizations and caring people in our community who step up and focus on making our City a better place to live.  We must not forget the property owners and businesses who have invested many dollars in our community, because they have compassion for the people and care about Albany's future.

Stop for a moment and consider:  have we seen prosperity the past several years?  Are households in better financial condition and do residents enjoy the community more than they used to?  Many households are doing better, but we must always remember that many people are still struggling.

With that in mind, how can we continue to make Albany a better place?  How can we keep improving livability? What should our community look like in the future?  These are the main drivers for decision makers.  All of the decisions we make today should make our citizens proud in the future.

It is not just city government that looks out for the best interests of the people of Albany; it is a whole community that comes together.  We all want to be proud of the City we call home and always share our hearts with others.

Let there be peace to all.

Sharon Konopa