Mayor Ashley Swearengin: There's light at the end of the tunnel

FRESNO, Calif.

Ashley Swearingen took the stage at the Exhibit Hall in Downtown Fresno Wednesday afternoon for her third state of the city address. But this year's message was perhaps the most optimistic to date. The mayor said, "As you know, we have been aggressively cutting and making difficult decisions for the last two and a half years, but we are finally seeing the break in the clouds."

Mayor Swearengin told Fresno business and community leaders that if the council accepts her proposed balanced budget for 2012, she may actually be able to present a status quo budget for next year with no further cuts to services or employees.

The mayor used her hour long speech to plug her pet projects, among them, high speed rail.

Swearengin said, "I represent a city that stands to benefit tremendously from high speed rail, and I don't want political masquerading as genuine concern about the project.

Swearengin says it's time to move forward with building plans.

The mayor also plugged Fresno's First Steps Home, a ten year plan to end chronic homelessness in Fresno. 500-thousand dollars has been collected since the "Give a Buck a Month Campaign" began almost a year ago.

The mayor explained, "The dollars that we are collecting from Fresno First Steps Home will go to fund permanent housing to those who are still living in the encampments in the downtown area who are living in the worst conditions you could possible imagine."

Two years ago Janice Scott lived in one of those encampments, Wednesday, Mayor Swearengin gave her a key to the city.

Mayor Swearengin said, "Janice will graduate from Heald College with Honors July 12th with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Medical Office Administration."

Just like Janice Scott, the mayor says the city of Fresno has nowhere to go but up.

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