Taking the podium and admitting to a little bit of nervousness in having to put together her first ever ‘State of the City’ address, Oakdale Mayor Cherilyn Bairos nonetheless wowed the crowd with a solid overview of the year gone by and a look ahead.
Staged at the Gene Bianchi Community Center, the annual State of the City luncheon and address was hosted by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce. The mayor joked that she had to “google it” when asked to deliver her address, never presenting a State of the City before, having just completed her first year at the helm.
The event saw a large turnout on Jan. 26, with dignitaries from several neighboring cities on hand, as well as Oakdale city staffers, police, fire, business owners, chamber officials and more. County Supervisor Buck Condit was also in attendance.
Pastor Henry Raven offered an invocation prior to the serving of lunch, and the mayor used most of the dining time to visit tables and welcome many of those attending.
Settling in at the podium for the address after lunch, Mayor Bairos acknowledged the visitors and offered kudos to her family for their love and support, as well as thanking her fellow council members and the city staff for the work on behalf of the community.
She was also quick to point out that she isn’t a typical politician.
“My job is not to ‘govern’ you; I’m here to serve the community of Oakdale, which means all of you,” Bairos said.
A fourth generation Oakdale resident, the mayor said she values what the community stands for the most; teamwork.
“Oakdale exemplifies this concept,” Bairos noted. “Whenever there is a need, the community of Oakdale shows up. Teamwork enables, empowers, and creates opportunity for all of us to learn and grow. This past year has been quite an example of teamwork and willingness to help each other in unprecedented times.”
Part of that has been finding ways to weather the pandemic storm; keep local businesses operating; assist with many youth programs in the community; provide for seniors and still maintain a solid fiscal position for the city.
“Challenges can either break us or strengthen us,” the mayor said. “My heart is filled with gratitude for the efforts of our community members, families and children, businesses, schools and EMS services for their willingness and determination to continue to move forward with hope.”
A video/slide show presentation highlighted many completed city projects from street repairs to beautification efforts, community events such as the 150th birthday parade and bash for the city, the return of the Oakdale Chocolate Festival and Oakdale PRCA Rodeo, police department renovations and more.
Bairos said through it all, she has seen the community persevere and that gives her plenty of hope for 2022 and beyond.
“My promise to all of you is to continue to work hard and to preserve the beauty of tradition, while planning for Oakdale’s future,” Bairos summarized. “I believe in my heart that our future is bright.”