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WITH AN AUDIENCE of roughly 800 community members and leaders in attendance, Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln delivered his State of the City address at the Port of Stockton this past Thursday.

The State of the City address is held once a year for the mayor to report the progress the city has made, discuss any statistics and share what the future holds for the next year.

At the start of the address, hosted by the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln gave “Key to the City” plaques to seven recipients, including the parents of former Stockton resident Kristin Smart.

Smart went missing from her dorm room in 1996 during her freshman year at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She was declared dead in 2002, a presumed victim of foul play, although her remains have never been found. Paul Flores was convicted of her murder last year.

Audience members applaud Denise and Stan Smart as they speak about honoring their daughter Kristin Smart during the 2023 State of the City event at Port of Stockton on May 18, 2023. Kristin Smart disappeared from the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus in 1996 and was presumed murdered. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Smart’s parents received a standing ovation from the audience after accepting the award.

“First of all, I would have to say we were very surprised (about receiving the award) but as the mayor spoke today … I realized that Kristin has not been forgotten,” said Denise Smart, Kristin Smart’s mother. “I think that’s the most positive thing for me to have affirmed that all these people who stood up remember Kristin.”

Progress on homelessness

Lincoln’s first point of discussion in his speech was housing and homelessness, a topic he said is one of the most complex issues that has plagued society for multiple generations but says will remain a priority.

According to Lincoln, in 2022 the city saw a 24 percent decline in the number of people accessing services who were experiencing homelessness, a 3 percent decrease in unsheltered homelessness in the city and a 16 percent reduction in first-time homelessness compared to the previous year.

“I want everyone to understand that we are making positive progress in addressing the root causes of homelessness in Stockton through affordable housing initiatives, comprehensive services, and wrap-around support, ensuring that every resident has access to a safe and comfortable living environment,” Lincoln said.

The city had 605 new housing units permitted, including 53 low-income units and 60 accessory dwelling units, in 2022.

YouTube video
See the 2023 Stockton State of the City event. (Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce/YouTube)

Although homelessness rates have managed to decline in the last year, the city’s homicide rate rose by 19 percent this year in comparison to 2022, according to Lincoln.

He called on the people of the city to remain vigilant, report any suspicious activities and participate in crime prevention.

Gwendolyn Dailey, president of Dome of Hope Organization, is presented with the Key to the City during the 2023 State of the City at Port of Stockton on May 18, 2023. Mayor Kevin Lincoln noted a 16 percent decrease in the number of first-time homeless cases. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Other statistics given by the mayor included that so far this year to date, 261 firearms have been seized, and that injury shootings were down 38 percent from last year.

“As a community, we must do better, and it starts at home. True change begins in the environments we find ourselves in every day,” Lincoln said.

Growing in size and opportunity

Other high points for the city included 9,978 pothole locations being filled this year, a 10 percent increase in population in the past decade, resulting in Stockton being the 11th largest city in California, and the issuing of 3,300 business licenses last year.

Additionally, the mayor said that in two weeks, a student worker program consisting of 300 youth and young adults is set to launch.

Attendees eat lunch catered by Papapavlo’s Bistro and Bar during the 2023 State of the City address at Port of Stockton on May 18, 2023. The event was hosted by the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

“We are listening, Stockton, and we will continue to be intentional about investing in the future of our city because by investing in our youth, we are cultivating a brighter future for our city,” Lincoln said.

Before closing out the address, Lincoln encouraged everyone in attendance and watching from home to actively participate in shaping the future of the city.

Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.

Victoria Franco is a Stockton-based reporter covering the diverse news around the Central Valley as part of the Report for America program. As a Stockton native, Franco is proud to cover stories within her community and report a variety of coverage. She is a San Jose State University alumna with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. In her collegiate years she was Managing Editor for the Spartan Daily. From her time at the Spartan Daily she helped lead her staff to California College Media Awards and a General Excellence first place. Victoria encourages readers to email her story tips and ideas at victoria.franco@baycitynews.com.