Huntsville, Ala. -- Mayor Paul Finley shared his vision for the future of Madison in his 2017 State of the City Address Friday evening.
"I'm excited. I think you could say I'm a little nervous, but the reality is it's just an exciting night for the city of Madison," Finley told WHNT News 19 ahead of the event.
When it was time for him to speak, it was clear he is enthusiastic about Madison.
"We have all continued to dig our roots into this town. It's no longer a place that we just moved to, it's a place that we live," he told the crowd.
To begin his speech, he began on a serious personal note about his family. While delighted to have his mother and sons there to witness his first State of the City address as mayor, he was missing someone special.
"I'll tell you this, we can't change the past. And we will focus on the present and make a difference in the future," he said in addressing his wife Julie Finley's recent DUI. "We're missing one at our table tonight," he said, to applause of support from the crowd. "We're missing one because we've already started the process of healing and recovery. I can tell you I can't appreciate any more your thoughts and prayers and your notes. You have wrapped your arms around us. And as we move forward, I simply ask that you continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers and I thank you."
He then moved on to the main point of order -- talking about where Madison is today, and into the future.
"I am so pleased to tell you that the state of our city is strong and getting stronger," he said proudly. "We as a mayor and council and department heads are working to make actionable results happen for our citizens," he said.
"I am so happy that we are in the best fiscal position that we've been in this city ever," Finley continued.
This is Finley's opportunity to address a crowd of stakeholders and teammates in the community, who each care about Madison.
"The reality is, I speak for a team of people who are working diligently on quality of life. And that means something to people," he said.
He said his first priority was repairing the relationship between the mayor and council. He's proud to say they have done so, even asking the council members to come onto the stage and bury a physical, but symbolic, hatchet with Madison dirt.
"You can't manage municipal government without a mayor and council working hand in hand a little bit," he explained. "We've at least started that process. I can tell you they're a great council to work with."
He stressed the importance of all parts of Madison's government working together.
As far as Madison's biggest problem of growth, Finley joked that it's a good problem to have. But he said they are going to do something about it, especially when it comes to the schools. There is limited money to build additions to tackle the capacity issue.
"We'll look at every possible funding option that we can find," he said, noting he plans to create a committee to look through possibilities.
He said the other big Limestone County tax issue was a major one as he hit the campaign trail. Now that he's in office, he said he could share that mediation is going well, but there is still work to do.
"We must solve that problem," he said, "We will, we'll stay on it as long as we can."
Mayor Finley told us even before his speech began that he was confident about how things will go this upcoming year.
"A year from now when we come back up here again, we are confident that the things we're talking about doing, will have moved by leaps and bounds," he explained.
The below videos are the speech in full: