Last December, my peers on the Saratoga City Council selected me to serve as mayor. The year started with a close look at the city’s budget and fiscal health. Despite inflation, loss of revenues and storm impacts, the council balanced the budget through cost recovery measures and reimagining facility rentals without reductions in services. We also invested in the future of Saratoga, allocating more than $7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for important infrastructure projects, including stormwater management and clean water improvements, as well as over $4 million to city roads.
The Housing Element update efforts continued this year. The state’s comments on Saratoga’s third draft of the Housing Element required new policies that would increase housing sites and affordability in existing single-family neighborhoods. The city council recently considered these new policies, bringing us closer to a final Housing Element and preventing additional builder’s remedy projects.
This year, we saw an increase in property crimes compared to the pandemic years. The council reviewed and agreed to maintain the Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) program system. Additionally, six neighborhoods approved assessments to fund ALPR cameras in their neighborhoods to complement the city system to catch criminals and prevent crime.
Though we have faced several challenges this year, we have much to celebrate. This includes establishing a Friendship City relationship with New Taipei City. I joined a delegation that visited New Taipei City in October to initiate discussions on opportunities for cultural exchange, economic growth and educational partnerships that will enrich the lives of residents in both cities. I am excited to see where this new relationship will lead us.
I also had the pleasure of hosting State of the City in Wildwood Park and helped launch the Chamber of Commerce’s President and Mayor’s Inaugural Ball. Both events honored Saratoga by recognizing the individuals and organizations who give so much of themselves to serve our community. There were also many other events, from Neighborhood Watch gatherings to Courts of Honor, that showcased the bonds in our community and brought residents together.
As someone who was born and raised in Saratoga and comes from a family that has called this community home for three generations, I have always understood that Saratoga is special. Recent years have further cemented my appreciation for Saratoga as our residents found ways to stay connected during the pandemic, celebrated Saratoga’s diversity and stood united against hate, and preserved the aspects of Saratoga we all cherish.
At the start of my term as mayor, I resolved to serve with the same dedication displayed by Saratoga residents, and I am proud of the unwavering commitment that I and my fellow council members have demonstrated through our achievements over the last year. It required hours of preparation, difficult conversations, lengthy meetings and a willingness to listen and adapt. I knew from past mayors that this year would be demanding. While my term was no exception, serving the community I hold in such high esteem as mayor has been a great honor.
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