On November 5, the day after the election, I toured the city, and it's clear to me that even though so much has changed in 100 years, the spirit of New York City has remained the same -- in fact, we've become even stronger. More than any other place in America or even the world, New York City is defined by opportunity, independence, and togetherness.
It was the turn of the century when we became the City of New York, and we're rapidly approaching the turn of the century again. This is a time to reflect on the city that New York has become, and, more importantly, to think seriously about the kind of city we want to leave for future generations.
I'm so proud to have the opportunity to be your Mayor as we bring New York City into the 21st century. I am committed to building on our accomplishments of the last four years to create a city in which every man, woman, and child is free to explore their potential. In a city with as much talent, creativity and energy as New York City, our collective potential is immeasurable.
Over the past four years, we've proven to ourselves and to the country what we can do when we focus on our problems and work together to solve them. New Yorkers now have a new spirit of optimism because we have transformed the city from a place of doubt and fear to a place of strength and self-confidence.
We've made major strides reducing crime, but there is still much more to accomplish. Even though we've gone from having a record number of murders a year to the lowest number during our first administration, we must go further. More and more people must have the opportunity to live free and independent lives, and explore their potential -- including the children in our public schools.
To continue to reduce crime and fully realize our independence as a city, there is nothing more important than driving drugs out of our neighborhoods and schools. Drugs are the root cause of overall crime in our city. Over 70% of those arrested in New York City every year test positive for drug use. Drug abuse and addiction tears families apart, and robs children of their potential.
With this mind, the City has launched a coordinated, multi-agency effort to curtail drug use through education, prevention and law enforcement. But city government cannot do this job alone. This is a problem created by people, and we must work together to solve it. Each and every one of us can do something to help.
In so many areas, we have major challenges facing us.
As a city, we must ensure that our public schools continue to improve. Under the exceptional leadership of Chancellor Rudy Crew, we are now moving in the right direction. Our public schools must be safe havens of learning, not recruitment grounds for gangs and drug dealers.
We have to continue to revitalize and strengthen our economy. Through targeted tax cuts and intelligent management, we will continue to spur the creation of jobs. And by continuing to instill a culture of accountability and responsibility into our public assistance programs, we will help more and more people to become self-sufficient so that they can truly help themselves. City government will help the people who need help -- but ultimately we understand that the only way to truly help people is by giving them the opportunity to take care of themselves.
Over the past four years, the promise of the City has reached thousands and thousands of New Yorkers it hadn't reached before. But some people still feel left out and left behind. I give you my personal commitment that in the years to come we will do our best to reach out to each and every New Yorker and extend the spirit of success and opportunity so many of us feel today. At first this may seem like an elusive goal -- but it's not. The lesson of the last four years is that through hard work, perseverance and courage, we really can realize the promise of the City.