It won't be all festivities and celebrations for Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson when she arrives in the nation's capital for the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.
Sure, there will be inaugural balls and such, but Hudson is also going to work.“We're going to the inauguration on Tuesday and I've got meetings on Wednesday morning.”
Still, the historical significance of the event isn't lost on the mayor.“It's wonderful to be able to celebrate the first African-American president of the United States,” said Hudson. “It's truly momentous.
At the same time,” she added, “it's exciting to celebrate the president who is ready to come to work.”Hudson will continue her efforts to bring funding to Greenville for a variety of projects. The president-elect has pledged funds to help the nation's crumbling infrastructure, something the two-term mayor knows a lot about.Hudson will meet on Capital Hill with other mayors and congressional leaders.
“Specifically for me, it's the Greenville community and other communities around Greenville, making sure that our infrastructure needs are there at the table,” Hudson said. “We're not going seeking theme parks and seeking things that have come under fire by the larger media, that some of the cities are looking for.
“We're going for base infrastructure: streets, sewer, water,” she said. “And we don't want to be left out. We've got to hit the ground running from day one, making sure that our needs are there.
Hudson believes her plan will work.“How better to improve the United States of America, both from an economic standpoint and from a structural standpoint, than to put the money into infrastructure,” said Hudson. “(Obama) is working not only with state governments but also local organizations, mayors, city council members, - organizations that have actual input, have hands-on contact - with how these dollars would be spent in our community.
“He's really getting a good idea of what it's going to take to get the structure of this nation back into play,” Hudson continued. “But also how many jobs is that going to create, what's the amount of money that is going to go into that?”
Hudson said when Obama unveiled his infrastructure stimulus package, he emphasized the need for information for projects that would be ready to start quickly. Going on the belief that “if you don't ask, you won't get it,” or possibly, “dream big,” Hudson has a wish list totaling nearly $338 million.
Hudson recently began a new feature at City Hall, “Open Office with the Mayor.” Citizens are invited to visit with the mayor at to discuss concerns, ideas, or plans they have regarding Greenville. Open Office is designed to give citizens the opportunity to just stop by and chat.
“I want citizens to feel free to stop by and share their ideas, compliments and complaints,” Hudson said. “In a city with over 40,000 residents, it can be difficult at times to get to every single person. This will allow us a day each week dedicated to just hearing from our citizens and improve our overall communications.”
The sessions will be held every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the mayor's office. No appointments are necessary. Persons will be seen on a first come first serve basis.
By TERRI FERGUSON SMITH, Delta Democrat Times
Tuesday, January 20, 2009, will be a momentous day for this country and the world. A new era will begin ushered in by one of the most challenging economies since the great depression. President Obama will need the support of every American to achieve his goals. It is a time for all of us to put aside our personal views and stand behind the man we have elected as President.
No one man can clean up the mess we have "permitted" in Washington D.C., but I believe that we will see significant steps toward that goal under Obama's leadership. Between the economy and the war, I can not imagine why anyone would want the job of President, but Mr. Obama seems to think he can make a difference and we should all commend his dedication and fortitude.
With a little positive thinking and a great deal of support from all Americans, perhaps President Obama will be the catalyst for change that this country has needed for years. We need a leader to whom we can look to for strength, honesty and support of the freedoms on which America was founded.
I hope you join me in wishing President Barack Obama the best of luck as our 44th President of the United States of America.