A mayor of Oakland cannot fear criticism -- it's a tough job that requires an open mind and thick skin. This newspaper recently published an editorial criticizing my job performance thus far, and I welcome this opportunity to discuss where we are on the issues that they and the people I represent care about most.
When I became mayor we faced a global recession, a shrinking police force and rising crime. Less than three years later, we've grown our economy by supporting local businesses and reviving major development projects to create jobs. As we've grown the city's budget, I used that growth to hire police officers and we have begun to reduce crime.
My highest priority is public safety. I worked with the council to secure ongoing funds to hire more police officers. We graduated 74 new officers this year with more already in training to bring us to 700 -- building toward my goal of 900 officers.
We hired Chief Bill Bratton to help develop the plan for reorganizing the Oakland Police Department to be more effective and accountable. After just four months, crime is trending down, including home burglaries.
We reduced homicides by more than 25 percent year-to-date, in part by implementing Ceasefire, a nationally-proven violence reduction strategy.
I forged partnerships with federal and state law enforcement to help us take violent criminals and illegal guns off our streets. With strong community partnership, police caught the accused killers of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine. We will spare no resource to catch and punish those who would harm our children.
As a mother, I am committed to building a city where all children are safe and have the opportunity to thrive. That's part of why I am working hard to rebuild Oakland's economy, focusing on game-changing projects and creating jobs for residents.
After decades of delay, we will break ground Friday at the Army base site, creating jobs and improving port competitiveness.
My work promoting Oakland internationally helped obtain $1.5 billion in foreign investment to build parks, retail space and 3,100 homes along the Brooklyn Basin waterfront.
We secured the world's third-largest privately held real estate firm to help develop Coliseum City, a world-class destination coming to East Oakland.
These projects and others in the pipeline will create thousands of jobs, revitalize neighborhoods and boost revenues to fund public safety and other services.
I cut budgets at City Hall, negotiated with police officers to contribute to their pensions, and reduced other pension costs. Looking forward, I set aside $10 million to fund rising health care costs and made major headway paying down internal debt.
I refinanced an expensive, closed police and fire pension system to reduce our overall debt and lower our interest rate.
As a result, Oakland's overall economy is the strongest its been in years: We have a $38 million reserve and maintained our credit ratings through the recession.
All major revenues are rising, with exciting growth in our restaurant and entertainment districts. This stability and growth will help us tackle our upcoming challenges.
Our work is far from done but we face challenges head-on and welcome the opinions and contributions of all Oaklanders.
During this historic renaissance, I will fight for an equitable future in which we all rise together in our shared commitment to this city we love.
Jean Quan is mayor of Oakland.