KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Giving his final state of the city address Thursday, Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell delivered an hour-long recap of his gratitude, his accomplishments and his hope for the future.
Hopewell is Kalamazoo’s 30th mayor. And with 12 years on the job, he is also its longest-serving.
He was introduced by a video message from Kalamazoo Central graduate-turned-Comedy Central star, satirist and comedian Jordan Klepper.
“I love Kalamazoo and I also love Mayor Bobby Hopewell,” Klepper said.
Hopewell was then greeted with a standing ovation from the more than 300 people who filled the cavernous, unfinished 15-story Exchange Building, the luxury apartment complex that will be the first new building in downtown Kalamazoo in a decade.
During his multimedia presentation, there were videos and guest speakers including Vaughn Washington Jr., the spokesperson for the Kalamazoo Promise.
“You have led the way with your dedication and your conversation always about children,” Vaughn told Hopewell.
The mayor listed the advancements in relations between the community and police, the programs for kids and teens that include summer activities and free bus service, the rehabilitation of neighborhoods and the plan to eventually eliminate one-way streets downtown.
“When we invest in our youth by providing enrichment programs and exploration and opportunities to grow, we show them what is truly possible,” Hopewell said.
He thanked those he said made it happen, from elected officials and public safety personnel to city employees at all levels, as well as community members and business people who came together to help Kalamazoo rise out of the devastation of the recession.
“A perfectly imperfect place, together we are community of compassion and diversity, entrepreneurial spirit and creativity, designing and building and developing the great masterpiece in progress,” Hopewell said to the crowd.
The crowd included many area officials including Kalamazoo County Probate Judge Tiffany Ankley.
“I don’t think that would have happened but for those relationships he has forged,” Ankley said.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller III said that while the restoration of Kalamazoo had many hands, the mayor deserves a lot of credit for making it happen.
“He’s been a great driving force and helped expand minds and helped people understand that there is more we can do for our community, more we should do for our community,” Fuller said.
Hopewell summed it up this way:
“We have a vision for what we want for this city and that vision has a strong center in sharing prosperity: How do we make this community good for everyone?” the mayor said.
Hopewell, who has said he will not run for reelection, remains in office through the end of the year. The question now is not only who will replace him in the mayor’s office, but also who will fill the void of leadership he leaves behind.