|Mayor George S. Hansel
3 Washington St.
Keene, NH 03431
January 3rd, 2022
Two years ago, I stood before most of you and said, “The people in Keene voted for change, and we must deliver it”…If I only knew then what I know now, I would have rethought that line. Less than three months later, we were thrown into a deadly pandemic that delivered change alright. And whether we like it or not, the pandemic, and our local response, has defined the last two years.
For the City, this change meant adapting quickly to new realities. City staff had to create new protocols to keep the public safe, the council had to conduct business virtually, and the public’s expectations of government increased dramatically as we learned how to face this new threat.
From the mayor’s perspective, the last two years have been challenging. Illness and loss of life is always heartbreaking, but there have also been moments of pride. I’ve seen leadership on display throughout the community, and leaders stepping up that have been forged in crisis. Our city manager has done an excellent job, and she’s been supported by incredible people throughout the organization who lead by example. I’m very proud of the city’s response to the pandemic. Coordinating the emergency management efforts that keep our community safe while being sensitive to the needs of our local economy…And we’re not done yet.
Looking back, I’m struck by the amazing progress that’s been made and the campaign promises kept despite the immense challenges we faced.
We’ve started to address workforce housing…The 21 in 21 program, where we raised and will be injecting over $1,000,000 into weatherization and the revitalization of homes on the eastside of the city.
We maintained an active and vibrant downtown…filling once empty storefronts and helping our small businesses fight through the pandemic. Who would have believed that over a dozen small businesses have either started or moved to downtown Keene since the pandemic began?
We have implemented the state’s first Unified Development Ordinance that will help guide responsible development in the city for decades to come.
Keene also submitted the first locally adopted community power plan to the public utilities commission, taking proactive steps to lead our city and state towards a more sustainable future.
And, importantly, we led the creation of a community-wide coalition that will lead our diversity and inclusion efforts, making our community a welcoming place for all people.
Now, to the work ahead.
We must focus on creating paths forward for Keene’s workforce of the future. This means creating opportunities for new housing to be built, welcoming new residents, and rallying leaders in the surrounding communities to contribute to our regional development goals.
This means playing to our strengths and making investments that ensure Keene remains a safe and wonderful place to raise a family.
And it means prioritizing our investments and exercising fiscal restraint so that Keene is affordable for seniors on fixed incomes and working families struggling to make ends meet.
I have tremendous faith in this community. We will get past this pandemic and continue the incredible progress we’ve made.
The Keene I know and love is a diverse and relevant community where big ideas are not just talked about, but realized through collaboration. This identity starts here with the example set by these elected leaders, the mayor and city council, as we work together with a singular goal in mind…to act in the best interest of our current and future citizens without ego, partisanship, or pettiness. To lead with transparency, bold action when appropriate, and in celebration of the diverse ideas and interest that coexist in this community. If we deliver, our city will thrive. Our quality of life, and diverse economy will compete with any other small city in the country. And we will find success.
I’m looking forward to continuing to serve as your mayor and I want to thank the voters who elected me and the council to lead over the next biennium. We won’t let you down.