State of the City: Renton's growth, plans for World Cup

Mayor Armondo Pavone highlights city’s accomplishments and goals across municipal departments.

Mayor Armondo Pavone hosted his second State of the City address in a speech filled with the city’s accomplishments, goals and several pre-recorded videos from different municipal departments to really drive home Renton’s status as “a very successful organization.”

“We’re the center of growth in the the region,” said Pavone on March 21 at the Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center, where an unexpected fire alarm test interrupted the speech halfway through. The evening included a small reception with food catered by Renton Technical College, an opening performance by Hazen High School’s Vox Lumini, and an introduction by Pavone’s son, Dominic.

Pavone’s address was divided into several sections, buoyed by short video promotions of each department and praise for the various administrators and department leaders that the mayor has worked with to reach the city’s goals that were established last year.

Pavone talked about the city’s growth and the need to restructure and reorganize the city’s departments.

“We evolve and grow. We test out new solutions and we find the right way to get things done [...] City Council approved a department reorganization on December 4 to redistribute the Equity, Housing and Human Service Division to multiple city departments to better service the needs of our community,” said Pavone. “We’re increasing our investment in Human Services. This reorganization helps us.”

Pavone also spoke of one of his areas of focus since becoming mayor of Renton — communication.

“Social media has really changed the way that people consume and interact with communication. I think it’s imperative that the city also changes the way we communicate with our residents,” Pavone said. “I have a deep-rooted belief that city government should provide as a service, and that should be throughout our lives. Everything we do should be about providing customer service to the residents.”

Pavone shared the results from the city’s Community Satisfaction Survey, which showed that residents believe that the city is performing above average in several capacities, such as protecting water quality, daytime neighborhood safety and daytime safety at The Landing.

He also shared data showing the city’s increased digitization of public records, the release of the Renton Reponds app, technology and wifi expansion throughout the city, and updating the city’s website.

Pavone also talked about the city’s parks and recreation department, saying that it is one of the most visible areas of business in the city.

“Our parks department is one of our shining jewels, and it’s one of our greatest opportunities,” he said. “Our philosophy around developing our parks is to listen to our residents and reinvest in our existing parks, but also to reimagine our long range park planning so that it better reflects the needs of our community in the post-COVID era.”

Pavone spoke highly of the Renton Police Department, mentioning the department’s virtual reality training center and usage of drones, before diving into public safety.

“Being community-focused, being peacekeepers is a direction that was very conscious and important in the city of Renton’s police department,” he said.

Pavone spoke of the Renton Police Department’s reputation as a highly sought-after job among police officers in the region and how the city is focused on reducing crime among the city’s youth through “compassionate accountability.”

“We’re seeing kids that are 10, 11 and 12 involved in serious crimes. We need to find ways to intervene, we need to find ways to get these kids help,” he said. “Compassionate accountability, it’s not just incarceration. It’s about accountability, which is the missing link.”

Pavone spoke about the city’s public works department and the city’s growing infrastructure, which includes electric vehicle infrastructure, construction work that is reshaping the downtown area, building affordable housing, the construction and opening of Hilltop Heritage Elementary School, and the current construction project that will give people better sidewalk access when traveling on Rainier Avenue.

Toward the end of the evening, Pavone talked about Renton’s place in South King County as a growing epicenter. He also talked about the city’s plans for economic development success, particularly with the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup coming to Seattle and what Renton plans for accommodating the event — especially with Renton being home to the Seattle Sounders FC headquarters and practice facility.

“I had the opportunity to go to a preliminary meeting three years ago when they started talking about the idea of bringing the World Cup to Seattle and the numbers they gave us were staggering. Last year’s Super Bowl was 190 million viewers around the world [...] which is a lot of viewers, but the least-watched World Cup in 2022 was over 200 million. That’s the least watched,” Pavone said. “We intend on leaning in and hopefully our businesses will prosper because of it and it will be a benefit for our community.”