FREDERICK, Md (WDVM) — On Monday morning, the mayor for the City of Frederick addressed residents in a State of the City address.
“2020: It has been called the year of focus by many and here at the City of Frederick, that couldn’t be more appropriate,” said Mayor Michael O’Connor.
Among the top issues to O’Connor aims to bring into focus is the housing needs of the more than 70,000 city residents.
The Frederick Board of Aldermen recently approved a new Department of Housing and Human Services and a nationwide search will be launched to find a director to lead it.
“We talk about housing right now often only in the context of our planning documents and what comes through that process. What I want to see this housing division become is an opportunity for us to be intentional in how we look at the continuum of housing needs in our community,” O’Connor explained.
Local resident, John Daniels has been supportive of the mayor and his action to address housing but he also hopes to see more steps taken towards the diversity of businesses selected for city contracts.
“It’s not hard to see when a contact is let what company it goes to. We’re certainly falling short of including all people in the bidding selection process,” Daniels said.
O’Connor admits that the city workforce doesn’t fully represent the diversity of the Frederick population. He pointed to an upcoming disparity study that will look into minority-owned businesses and the percentage of dollars the city spends on their services.
“This is not a process that you flip a switch and change overnight. It requires the kind of intentional effort that we’re undergoing to make sure that when we are posting job announcements that we’re reaching out to the broadest possible community that we can,” O’Connor explained.
In the address, O’Connor emphasized the commitment to more communication with the public as these initiatives more forward.
Beginning in May, the city will host town hall meetings intended for residents to speak up and be heard by the administration.
“I’ve been disappointed that we’ve not cracked that open to the greatest extent that we need to. We remain committed to trying to find as many avenues, as many ways to reach our residents when it’s convenient for them,” O’Connor said.
Mayor O’Connor also noted suitability achievements in the city including that beginning in December of 2020, 100 percent of the city’s electricity will be generated by renewable energy.