As we mark the passing of 2013 and welcome a new year, it is important to understand some of what the community experienced in the past 12 months so we may all learn from it.

The integrity of public discourse took a beating this year. There are some in our community who think nothing of loudly hissing, booing or even shouting at others during public meetings and events. During the meeting of the City Council on Jan. 15, some observing the public debate to choose a new member of the council loudly booed or hissed when Councilman Robert Rickman voted to appoint Charles Manne as councilman. A council meeting Oct. 15 turned unruly when audience members shouted disagreement with not only city staff members trying to give a report about the length of runway 12/30 at Tracy Municipal Airport, but also others there on behalf of Surland Communities LLC.

Such public rudeness not only disrupts discussion of an important city issue but is unbecoming of our community and reflects poorly on the character of Tracy.

The active efforts by Tracy city staff and elected leaders to turn the town into an eastern satellite of Silicon Valley are now bearing very large fruit. The opening of the Amazon Fulfillment Center and the annexation of Cordes Ranch for development as the largest business park in Northern California both set the stage for the rapid evolution of our community.

What is less certain is the future of Tracy as a community. Who were we? Who will we be? Are we one Tracy or many smaller self-contained neighborhoods within Tracy? In the coming year, we may be called upon to answer those questions, lest — as author Michael Malone pointed out — we fail to preserve what is important and Tracy be pulled under the coming tide of technology workers.

Tied to that future is the financial health of our local business women and men who serve the people of Tracy. Too much of our downtown shuts down at dusk. There are many open spaces in our storefronts, and even experienced city staff members, such as development director Andrew Malik, say the city can only do so much. The development must come from the business community. But how much can small-business owners be expected to do when the community goes elsewhere to shop?

Maybe that’s OK. But that decision should not come from circumstance and apathy; it should come from the community itself. Maybe we want unique shops, boutiques and other offerings not usually found in malls.

We have a lot to be thankful for as Tracy residents. Our town is growing, not dying. We look to the future. As always, this newspaper believes in the people and community of Tracy. We stand together.

Happy New Year.

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