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Originally published Sunday, March 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Southeast Opinion

Bigger, safer and stronger: It's an exciting time in Renton

Yesterday marked my two-month anniversary as Renton's mayor. I have taken my place in this community of extraordinary leaders and look forward...

Special to The Times

Yesterday marked my two-month anniversary as Renton's mayor.

I have taken my place in this community of extraordinary leaders and look forward to fostering a spirit of teamwork and cooperation that will keep us working together for the next several years.

I took office determined to strengthen basic services, restore confidence in city government, and make a difference in people's lives. I am committed to making Renton a safer place for people to live, learn, work, and raise their families; expanding our sense of community so every neighborhood and every person feels part of the city; helping businesses grow; and creating opportunities for all.

It has been an exciting two months and we have already seen tremendous activity. Renton just welcomed the residents from the Cascade/Benson Hill area into our city. This annexation is the largest in Renton's 106-year history and overnight the city grew more than 25 percent. We are now a 22-square-mile urban community, home to 76,000 residents and more than 40,000 jobs.

With this annexation, we are working hard to ensure that we provide the highest levels of service to our new residents while maintaining a high quality of life for all our residents and businesses.

Renton will experience significant changes this year. We continue to see strong economic development and several projects are coming to fruition. Last month, the Federal Reserve Bank opened for business at its new state-of-the art building in Renton. We are counting down to the grand opening of the Seahawks' new headquarters and training facilities. This spectacular 200,000-square-foot waterfront facility in the Kennydale neighborhood is one of the largest in the NFL, and will soon become an integral part of our community.

Every day we see new stores opening at The Landing, a 46-acre retail/residential development that will employ more than 2,500 people. Frontier Bank is building a new branch downtown and several auto dealers will cut the ribbons on new facilities.

In addition to all of this development, we will continue to focus resources on efforts to revitalize the Highlands and downtown. And, it is my goal to significantly advance our code-enforcement efforts and make sure we are moving forward with targeting and eradicating problems negatively impacting our neighborhoods. We have instituted a new interdepartmental code-enforcement initiative to ensure measurable results.

One of my priorities is keeping our neighborhoods and city safe. People need to feel secure in their homes and out in the community. We will develop crime-reduction plans using our Special Operations Division, and emphasize safety in downtown, the Highlands and other neighborhoods. I am committed to emergency preparedness and our readiness to respond to any emergency, be it an earthquake or a storm. We will strengthen our entire array of public-safety services.

We have several major improvements underway for our roads and other infrastructure. In cooperation with BNSF Railway Company, we just completed replacing the railroad bridges downtown. Not only does this provide reliable rail service to Boeing, we are also able to take advantage of this opportunity to make several improvements to our downtown roads.

Last month we completed installation of concrete panels on Houser Way South, allowing us to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles while improving appearance and access to local restaurants and businesses. We did this project on budget and in record time — within a month from start to finish.

In the coming months, we know we have challenges but our strengths are great. We will work to be effective, while emphasizing greater accountability and efficiency at City Hall.

I look forward to a careful review of our long-term financial planning so that we can continue to provide our high standards of service and sustain these during all types of economic conditions.

I will work closely with the City Council and all our partners in the community to ensure that our city continues to be an exceptional place to live, learn, work and play.

Denis Law is the mayor of Renton.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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