NORWALK – Norwalk’s annual State of the City address was presented by new city manager Jesus Gomez, along with a host of others, last Friday, March 2, at the DoubleTree Hotel.
Speaking last, Gomez was preceded by three other presenters: deputy city managers Gary Di Corpo and Kevin Gano, along with Norwalk Sheriff Station Captain James Tatreau.
DiCorpo, doubling this year as master of ceremonies, introduced the first speaker with the opening remarks, president of the Norwalk Community Coordinating Council, Gordon Stefenhagen.
Afterward, Stefenhagen’s remarks were followed by the invocation by Pastor Gerald Mitchell of the Pioneer Baptist Church.
Former Norwalk mayor and Air Force veteran Marcel Rodarte led the room in the Pledge of Allegiance with Danielle Bowie singing her rendition of the National Anthem.
Leading off the formal presentations was Tatreau. He spoke specifically to the declining incidents of violent crimes against the national averages while acknowledging that those numbers may not tell the entire picture.
Speaking of recent situations where a Norwalk youth was apprehended after being overheard threatening violence at a Whittier high school, he noted that after obtaining a search warrant of the person of interest’s residence, there was indeed a cache of weapons and high capacity cartridge clips found in the home.
Tatreau also referenced the recent apprehension of individuals by Norwalk Lieutenant Michael Inge’s anti-gang unit.
According to Tatreau, that particular individual was on the streets because of recently voter-approved laws Prop 47 and 57 as well as Assembly Bill AB 109, calling for the early release of certain “non-violent” prisoners.
This was the case in the recent “shots fired” response which started near Hermosillo Park ending with the apprehension of three individuals in the northern Artesia neighborhood bordering south Norwalk.
According to the Captain, one of the suspects apprehended was a benefactor of the early release programs in the state.
Overall, Tatreau said that homicides were down last year (there were nine homicides in Norwalk in 2017) as well as other crimes when compared to surrounding communities like Bellflower, Cerritos, Whittier, Pico Rivera, and Lakewood.
Up next was new deputy city manager Gano with the goals, “To provide our citizens with a real and perceived sense of safety and security.”
Gano cited recent successes in two specific instances regarding a dilapidated house and an unlawfully parked car on one of Norwalk’s streets.
He also shared that the city was returning to a “team approach,” with city staff as well as encouraging more “community-oriented policing” within the city.
Gano encouraged the enforcement of existing laws to deal with problems within city limits. This “code enforcement” approach was well received by the audience with their applause.
Additional comments were directed to the need to work with all Public Safety oriented agencies including, “probation, District Attorney, courts, and child and family services.”
Citing the goals of “increasing the number of Public Safety Officers, replacing worn equipment, being more visible and engaging and empowering the community,” were his plans for the future safety and well-being of Norwalk residents.
Finally, he reminded the audience of the need to work with “faith-based organizations, food and shelter organizations and schools,” all while focusing on families.
With 30 calendar days under his belt at the helm of the City of Norwalk, new city manager Gomez proceeded to review the direction the city has seen in the last 12-month calendar year.
Citing many statistics, he showed that Norwalk was a young age city with a high (65%) owner occupancy within the city. This rate was highest amongst the nine local municipalities named in his presentation.
Education, healthcare and social assistance were the largest area of careers (20.4%) that Norwalk residents chose.
The top employees in the city were Cerritos College, Los Angeles County, Metropolitan State Hospital, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District and the City of Norwalk. Others included Target Stores, Costco, Little Lake School District, Doty Brothers and Coast Plaza Hospital.
Gomez’s economic outlook included analyzing prospective development, creating a strategy to attain it and to implement the plan by “reaching out to stakeholders,” marketing the idea while assisting procurement of financing, and procurement.
After nearly three hours, the outlook of the city was positive and headed in the right direction.
By Raul Samaniego