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Mayor Heartwell says farewell to his role as Grand Rapids mayor

After 12 years as your Mayor and eight years before that as your Third Ward City Commissioner, it is time for me to say goodbye- and to tell you how proud I have been to be your mayor.
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Dear Rapidian readers,


This is my “swan song” letter, as I prepare to leave office after 12 years as Mayor of Grand Rapids and eight years before that as Third Ward City Commissioner.

I leave office deeply satisfied at the direction Grand Rapids is going and totally enthusiastic about the new leadership that will take it there. We have come through some tough times as a city in the past 12 years. The recession knocked the under-pinnings out of many citizens’ household income, it forced business shutdowns and it resulted in a 27% reduction in municipal workforce. Yet Grand Rapids is an amazingly resilient city, made up of hard-working and innovative people, and we came through the recession stronger and better.

We are a people who understand the importance of protecting our natural resources. We cleaned up our river, planted thousands of trees, began a mode shift from the private car to public transportation, biking and walking and launched a renewable energy future.

We are a people who care about our neighbor. When one of us is struggling the rest of us step up to support and encourage.

We are a people who care about children. We support public education, early childhood development systems and after school programs.  We pull together, we sacrifice, to see that every child who wants to go to college can go to college.

Who wouldn’t want to be Mayor of a great city like Grand Rapids? We are a city recognized nationally– even globally– for innovation, commitment to the environment, compassion and cooperation.

I leave office without regrets. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have done a few things differently. I surely would have! But this city has risen to a vision, a progressive vision of health, security and prosperity for all. And– I still pinch myself when I say it– I have been its Mayor. What a gift you gave me.

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