by John Rodriguez | @johnmrod

An excerpt from the PULP dated January 28th, 2020, titled, Pueblo’s Mayor Gives State of the City Address.

On Poverty

“When I came into office, parts of Pueblo had 30 to 40 percent poverty. The Y-District, as it was known then, compared to poverty levels in major U.S. Cities. In my first term in office, I declared this was the greatest moral issue of our time.  No child should be born into a pre-determined future decided through the means of his or her parents. 

Yes, there’s more to do but in just four years, there isn’t one sector of Pueblo that has over 20 percent poverty and many sectors are now under 10 percent of the federal poverty level

On Education

Everything changed when businesses and nonprofits adopted a zero-tolerance system for mediocrity in our schools and higher education system. At the top we set the goal of 100 percent graduation rates for every child in Pueblo County. Anything less was a failure to our community and to that child. We created a system that let talented children grow and ones that needed help find that help. We also took on the state and federal government where we felt they encouraged bureaucracy over student achievement. Today, Pueblo leads the nation in graduation and attendance rates. We lead the nation in teacher retention rates and Districts 60 and 70 are school districts where the best teachers come to work and excel. The waiting list to be a teacher in one of these districts is three years. 

Colorado State University-Pueblo

I remember six years ago, the embarrassment when the Chancellor of the CSU system said Southern Colorado didn’t have the economic means to support a university. We took his insult and got to work. 

The business community stepped up and demanded the university produce students to meet the needs of a modern economy. People laughed at us when we said Colorado State University-Pueblo will lead Colorado in three areas: renewable energy, water and a tech industry. The university is a first-class institution because we integrated its education, business and engineering departments right into the fabric of Pueblo. 

On Thunderwolf Football

It’s no secret, on August 24th, 2024, our beloved Thunderwolves will face Alabama in their first Division I football game. Perhaps, for some, it’s just another football game, but for its Pueblo Pride because CSU-Pueblo now has more students than the South Denver Campus and a Division I program. 

On a Modern Economy

The fruits of our labor can be seen by the new generation of wind turbines being produced at Vestas. The “Pueblo turbine” engineered at CSU-Pueblo, is built by 1000 Vestas’ workers in right here in Pueblo using Evraz “future steel”. The Pueblo turbine was engineered in Pueblo, forged in Pueblo and just like steel, once again, what Pueblo builds will fuel a nation.

On Water

Colorado Springs scoffed at the resources we put into creating a water institute at CSU-Pueblo to study, understand, and protect water in Colorado. As other states and cities experienced water shortages and city evacuations, Pueblo leads the West in maximizing and protecting our precious water resource. 

On High-Tech Industry

By demanding that programming language be included in the school districts and by funding engineering, computer engineering, programming and mobile technologies, our university now produces the graduates to meet the demands of modern economy.

On Rail

Far too long, the TTCI sat “out there.” So we built an industry for this world renown facility. Nearly finished, the first cars on front-range rail will make their maiden voyage from Cheyenne to Albuquerque. We asked and CSU-Pueblo delivered more engineering students to this industry. When someone thinks rail, they now think Pueblo. 

Preservation of Quality of Life

In my first days in office, an elderly gentleman came into my office and said, “I don’t want Pueblo to be just like every other town.”

Today, Bessemer is a smart growth neighborhood mixing economic and small business growth with its cultural heritage. We promised we were going to preserve our Steel heritage. 

On Pride and Belief

We were not going to let Denver and Colorado Springs look down at us. Do you want to know how far we have come? Just last week in a meeting of Western mayors, the mayor of Denver came over to me and said, “You guys down there need to tone it down. You are taking our jobs. We are sick and tired hearing about how great Pueblo is. Who do you think you are?”

I smiled and told him, “We Are Pueblo.“

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