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Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan talks lessons learned, parting advice in his final 'State of the City'

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan gives his final "State of the City" address at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron on March 22, 2023.
Anna Huntsman
Ideastream Public Media
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan gives his final "State of the City" address at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron on March 22, 2023.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan reflected on his two-term tenure as mayor and gave parting advice to his eventual successor during his final “State of the City” address Wednesday.

“It has been an honor of my professional lifetime to serve as your mayor,” Horrigan said in the speech, which was held at 7:30 a.m. at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron.

The event was originally scheduled for August 2022 but was postponed in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man. Eight Akron Police officers shot Walker after a car and foot chase June 27. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is reviewing the incident and expected to complete the investigation in the coming months, if not sooner.

The attorney general’s office will turn the finished investigation over to a Summit County grand jury, which will then decide whether to indict the eight officers involved in the shooting.

City officials are preparing for the impending completion of the investigation and subsequent grand jury decision, Horrigan said during the address.

“There’s no doubt, in the days and weeks ahead, this community will need to trust each other more than they ever have as the independent investigations into the death of Jayland Walker become public and the grand jury makes its decision,” he said.

Horrigan’s staff has been speaking to various community groups to educate them about the grand jury process and what to expect when the decision is released, he said.

“I think we can all agree on 2 key points,” he said. “Number one: We want peace here in Akron. Number two: We want to make sure we have the infrastructure in place to deal with both trauma and healing.”

Kemp Boyd talks with Mayor Dan Horrigan after Akron State of the City speech
Anna Huntsman
Ideastream Public Media
Kemp Boyd (left), executive director of Love Akron, talks with Mayor Dan Horrigan after Horrigan's final State of the City address on March 22, 2023.

“Pillars” for next mayor to consider

Horrigan encouraged the city’s next mayor to focus on “foundational pillars” of good governance, financial stability and equity.

Good governance, Horrigan said, isn’t always about agreeing.

“This role is not pleasing the loudest voices in the room. It’s about doing the right thing for all of Akron,” Horrigan said.

The speech comes as some residents have expressed frustrations at the administration for not listening to their opposition of projects such as White Pond Reserve, a controversial housing development on an area near wetlandson the city’s West Side.

Horrigan already endorsed Marco Sommerville, a deputy mayor in his administration, several days after he announced he would not seek reelection.

Horrigan told Ideastream Public Media he’s paying “zero attention” to how the seven mayoral candidates are campaigning.

“There’s a difference between running for office and running the office,” Horrigan said. “I was a candidate once and I said ‘this,’ you know what I mean, but getting the information about what really is going on is different than saying, ‘we should be doing this.’”

Takeaways and lessons learned

Rather than give a “laundry list” of his administration’s accomplishments, Horrigan said, he wanted to focus his last address on what he learned as the city’s top official and give takeaways to his successor.

Still, he touted his administration’s efforts to stabilize finances and prioritize equity across the city. The city is in a much better position financially than when he first took office in 2016, partially due to the $145 million of federal COVID relief it received, Horrigan said.

New city of Akron logo featuring a rubber worker
City of Akron
Mayor Dan Horrigan unveiled the city's new logo which features an illustration of the city’s new rubber worker statue on Main Street, a nod to the city’s rubber industry roots. The logo was designed by Jake Bell, he city’s Communication and Media Supervisor.

There is still much room for improvement, he added. He encouraged the city’s next leader to always put citizens first.

“The outsiders don’t get to tell our story. We do. We’re telling the story of a community who shows up, does the work, puts in the time, and again most importantly, cares,” he said. “It is the people of Akron who matter most.”

Horrigan ended the speech by unveiling a new city logo that features a rubber worker holding a tire, calling back to the city’s rubber industry roots.

He also announced a community parade to celebrate the Buchtel Community Learning Center and Archbishop Hoban boys’ basketball teams for winning the division II and division I state championships last weekend. The parade is Sunday at 2 p.m. starting at the intersection of Main and Cedar downtown.

Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.