2018 State of the Cities
From public safety and economic development to inclusiveness and infrastructure, Democratic Mayors have used their 2018 State of the City addresses to set priorities and outline bold visions for their cities. Below you'll find summaries of State of the City addresses from the following Mayors:
- Mayor Jackie Biskupski - Salt Lake City, UT
- Mayor Jorge Elorza - Providence, RI
- Mayor Greg Fischer - Louisville, KY
- Mayor Robert Garcia - Long Beach, CA
- Mayor Jim Gray - Lexington, KY
- Mayor Sam Liccardo - San Jose, CA
- Mayor Steve Schewel - Durham, NC
- Mayor Andy Schor - Lansing, MI
- Mayor Yvonne Spicer - Framingham, MA
- Mayor Darrell Steinberg - Sacramento, CA
- Mayor Levar Stoney - Richmond, VA
- Mayor Jim Strickland - Memphis, TN
- Mayor Sharon Weston Broome - Baton Rouge, LA
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Mayor Jackie Biskupski - Salt Lake City, UT
In her third State of the City Address, Mayor Jackie Biskupski highlighted her administration's achievements in Salt Lake City and announced several new plans for the next two years.
Since Mayor Biskupski was elected in 2015, the city's Economic Development Department has brought nearly $1 billion in investments and more than 6,000 jobs to Salt Lake. The city also created its first Housing Master Plan, "Growing SLC," and its first Transit Plan.
During her address, Mayor Biskupski proposed a half percent sales tax increase to generate about $35 million annually. "This funding would come not only from local residents, but from those who visit and work in the Capital City - ensuring all who use our infrastructure help pay for it," she said. The funds could be used to expand affordable housing, increase east-west public transit routes, support public safety, and more.
Mayor Biskupski also proposed an $87 million infrastructure bond to fund much-needed road repairs and sewer lines. "If approved by voters, the bond, combined with some possible funding from the sales-tax increase, will finally allow us to implement a ten-year plan to make our streets better for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians," she said. The bond would cost taxpayers about $5 per household per year.
Watch Mayor Biskupski's address here.
Mayor Jorge Elorza - Providence, RI
"Cities have always been places that bring people from all and different walks of life to coexist and thrive together. This is what cities do, in spite of all the forces that are working to divide us. And that is what our city will continue to do because that is what makes us so strong."
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza opened his third State of the City Address by underscoring the unique role that cities can play in bringing our nation together. He went on to discuss the city's work around education, workforce development, public safety, the opioid crisis, and economic development.
The city has also taken action to improve its infrastructure. Last year, Mayor Elorza worked with the City Council to pass a five-year, comprehensive capital improvement plan. "This Spring, we will be investing $45M and being strategic about our infrastructure investments so that we're not waiting until things are broken to fix them," he said.
Providence has continued to make public safety a priority, the Mayor said, by purchasing 71 new vehicles and deploying body worn cameras. The city's police department also recently graduated its largest and most diverse class.
Read or watch Mayor Elorza's State of the City address here.
Mayor Greg Fischer - Louisville, KY
Mayor Greg Fischer delivered his 2018 State of the City address at the South Central Regional Library in Louisville earlier this month.
Mayor Fischer reported that since he took office in 2011, the city has created over 70,000 new private sector jobs, opened 2,500 new businesses, and reduced unemployment to 3.5 percent. Louisville has also grown as a tourist destination, with 25 hotel projects announced or under construction.
Beyond economic growth and development, Mayor Fischer identified public safety, education, and workforce development as core priorities for the next year. Louisville continues to expand educational opportunities for residents through the city's SummerWorks programs and JCPS Academies. The city has also forged a strong partnership with KentuckianaWorks, which offers a variety of career services.
"If you're looking for a career that's built for the future, we want to help you find it, and get the skills and credentials you'll need so you can make more money to support yourself and your family," Mayor Fischer said.
Mayor Fischer also urged state lawmakers to consider instituting a tax on luxury items in order to help mitigate Kentucky's pension crisis which has been a growing challenge for Louisville and other cities across the state.
Read or watch Mayor Fischer's address here.
Mayor Robert Garcia - Long Beach, CA
In his fourth State of the City Address, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia focused on the city's achievements over the past year and presented a strong, inclusive vision for the future of Long Beach.
In 2018, the city achieved a 7.9 percent reduction in overall crime, adopted the Clean Air Action Plan, and continued to attract investment and spur growth. There is currently over $3 billion in major projects underway in Long Beach, including the largest bridge on the West Coast and hundreds of new affordable housing units.
"Our city is booming, and it's up to us to ensure that our strong economy and growth is working for everyone," Mayor Garcia said. The Mayor called for the creation of a non-profit Economic Development Corporation that would work to ensure inclusion for local aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners.
Public safety and criminal justice are central to Mayor Garcia's plans for the future of the city. During his address, the Mayor unveiled a new initiative aimed at providing services and collecting data in an effort to prevent recidivism. The Long Beach Justice Lab, funded by a Bloomberg Foundation grant, is a collaborative effort between the City's Innovation Team and its public safety agencies, health department, and city prosecutor's office.
Watch Mayor Garcia's State of the City Address here.
Mayor Jim Gray - Lexington, KY
In his final State of the City address, Mayor Jim Gray discussed his administration's successes over the past eight years and his hopes for the future of the city of Lexington. Mayor Gray announced in December that he will enter the Democratic primary for Kentucky's 6th Congressional district.
Since Mayor Gray was first elected in 2011, nearly 20,000 jobs have been created and the unemployment rate has been reduced from 9 percent to 3.2 percent. During his first term, his administration launched a successful incentive program that has spurred local companies to add and retain quality jobs.
Several major infrastructure projects are currently underway in Lexington, including a $22 million renovation of the former Fayette County Courthouse and a $200 million renovation and expansion of the Convention Center.
Public safety has also been at the core of Mayor Gray's leadership. Lexington now has the highest number of police officers in its history. Though the Mayor acknowledged that even "one loss is too many" in regards to violent crime, he proudly affirmed that Lexington is "one of the safest cities in the country."
Watch Mayor Gray's address here.
Mayor Sam Liccardo - San Jose, CA
Last Thursday, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo delivered his annual State of the City Address. The Mayor highlighted his city's progress while acknowledging that there is still work be be done, especially around housing.
"The state of our city is strong, and getting stronger; experiencing economic vitality as it never has before," Mayor Liccardo said. "Yet the great paradox of our prosperity lies in our thousands of neighbors who struggle weekly to pay rent in an economy that increasingly marginalizes many."
He announced that he plans to improve housing equity and spur innovation by building 25,000 homes over the next five years, including 10,000 affordable homes.
Mayor Liccardo also praised San Jose's resiliency and spirit in the wake of last year's devastating floods. "Our response to the floods speaks to something much greater," he said. "It reveals a collective resilience, one that enables us to overcome adversity - when we work together - to accomplish great results." The city has taken steps to improve its disaster response efforts and increase preparedness for future events.
Watch Mayor Liccardo's State of the City Address here.
Mayor Steve Schewel - Durham, NC
"We are a welcoming city. We are a diverse city. We are a prosperous city determined that our prosperity will be shared." In his first State of the City Address, Durham Mayor Steve Schewel laid out a set of principles and progressive goals for the city, which spanned from affordable housing and the environment to racial equity.
Mayor Schewel praised several efforts around affordable housing that are already underway in the city and pledged to build on their momentum. He is working to create a $15 million affordable housing trust fund, with the city contributing 10 percent in risk capital and the rest of the funds coming from low or zero-interest loan funds from Duke University and the private sector.
The Mayor also wants to make Durham more green. The city is partnering with TreesDurham, a new nonprofit, and Keep Durham Beautiful to replenish the city's diminishing tree canopy. Durham needs to plant 60,000 trees over the next two decades, he said.
In order to make Durham a more accepting and equitable community, Mayor Schewel announced the formation of a Race Equity Task force to look at the ways in which city policies correct or cause racial inequalities.
Mayor Andy Schor - Lansing, MI
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor discussed neighborhoods, infrastructure, education and more during his first State of the City Address last Wednesday.
When Mayor Schor took office last month, his first executive order was to create a Department of Neighborhoods and Citizen Engagement. "This new Department places neighborhoods front and center in my administration, and will greatly improve the way we communicate with our citizens," he said.
Fixing Lansing's roads and sidewalks is another top priority, Mayor Schor said. He announced that he will go on a "Road Map Neighborhood Tour" throughout Lansing to engage with community members about their roads. The city will be posting a comprehensive list of the roads that have been fixed, and the cost of those fixes, on its official website.
Mayor Schor's other planned initiatives include a new commission to boost the arts, increased collaboration between the city and Lansing schools, and a revitalization of the city's riverfront.
Read or watch Mayor Schor's State of the City Address here.
Mayor Yvonne Spicer - Framingham, MA
During her first State of the City Address last night, Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer committed to making residents her top priority and working closely with the City Council and School Committee over the next four years. Mayor Spicer, who took office on January 1st, identified several areas of focus for her administration, including economic development, public health, civic engagement, and ensuring a smooth transition as Framingham moves from a town form of government to a city form of government.
Attracting development is a core priority for Mayor Spicer, who hopes to spur investment in stagnated areas and foster a much-needed revitalization of the city's downtown. A comprehensive study is underway to identify and suggest future improvements.
Determined to increase civic participation in Framingham, Mayor Spicer is forming neighborhood associations that will meet regularly to share ideas and discuss challenges in different areas of the city. She will also host a series of citywide conversations around economic development to help guide her vision and allow citizen input in the decision-making process.
Read more about Mayor Spicer's address here.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg - Sacramento, CA
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called on the city to "aim for the extraordinary" during his first State of the City address last week. Mayor Steinberg, who took office last January, presented a bold vision for Sacramento and discussed ways to tackle challenges like homelessness, immigration, and the opportunity gap.
Mayor Steinberg called for the creation of a multi-million dollar equity capital fund for the city, which would be driven by both public and private contributions. "An equity capital fund is a significant pot of resources, not for annual operating costs for the city, but instead to invest in capital, in infrastructure, in affordable housing, in arts and culture facilities, one-time funds to attract and retain key industries and any other one-time expenditures that will grow our jobs base and help our neighborhoods," he said. The city will hold four workshops in the next 45 days in order to formulate a plan to make the fund happen.
In the face of concerns over the safety and status of undocumented immigrants, Mayor Steinberg reaffirmed that Sacramento will remain a Sanctuary City. "We believe the American Dream includes all dreamers. Sacramento is a community where birth does not have to be destiny," he said.
The Mayor also celebrated a new partnership with the county that includes $108 million in resources to combat homelessness in Sacramento. He also committed to building 1,000 new efficient small housing units over the next two years.
Watch Mayor Steinberg's address here.
Mayor Levar Stoney - Richmond, VA
In his first State of the City address, Mayor Levar Stoney described his administration's achievements over the past year and set several goals for the City of Richmond. He believes that by focusing on education, housing, and public safety, Richmond can continue to move forward towards a stronger future.
Mayor Stoney announced that his administration made the largest single investment in education of any administration -- an additional $6.1 million for teacher salaries and retention. He also discussed his RVA Education Compact, which the City Council and School Board unanimously passed last spring. The agreement will provide a framework for meeting the educational needs of the city's children.
In order to further serve Richmond students, the Mayor recently submitted an ordinance that would increase the city's meal tax by 1.5%. "This would generate an initial $9.1 million in new funding per year, which would allow us to expand our debt capacity and provide $150 million dollars in new capital funding over the next five years, solely dedicated to Richmond Public Schools," he said.
The Mayor also addressed the city's challenges with housing, and said that in recent decades, the federal, state and city government has let down Richmond's public housing residents. "We all must do better," he said. "And I will do everything in my power as Mayor to address the current issues facing theRichmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and work with them toward longer term solutions," He called for the construction of 1,500 affordable housing units in the city in the next five years and said he would propose a plan to theCity Council in 2018 to help facilitate their construction.
Read Mayor Stoney's address here.
Mayor Jim Strickland - Memphis, TN
"The state of our city is strong - and getting stronger every single day." In his recent State of the City Address, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland highlighted his administration's successes and presented his vision for the city as it approaches its bicentennial.
Mayor Strickland said that since 2016, 12,000 more Memphis residents are working and that unemployment is at its lowest rate since 1990. He also highlighted $11 billion in new investments, mostly in downtown.
The Mayor discussed several initiatives to improve public safety. "Crime is our greatest challenge. Everywhere I go in every corner of the city, I hear it," he said. In the days after his speech, 80 new officers joined the Memphis Police Department, to put the police force at more than 2,000. The city aims to reach 2,300 officers by 2020.
Managing growth is another core priority for Mayor Strickland. This will be guided by "Memphis 3.0," the first comprehensive growth plan for the city in nearly four decades. "We will build up, not out. Our growth will be anchored on the strength of our core and our neighborhoods," he said.
Read Mayor Strickland's address here.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome - Baton Rouge, LA
Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome reflected on her first year in office and outlined her plans for the future in her second State of the Parish address on January 2, 2018.
When Mayor Broome took office last year, Baton Rouge was still early in the recovery process following an historic August 2016 flood that devastated neighborhoods. During her address, she announced two plans that will help the city better respond to crises in the future: a stormwater master plan, and a broader "disaster recovery framework". Mayor Broome also noted that Baton Rouge has received $11 million in federal dollars for ongoing flood recovery efforts.
Mayor Broome recognized the city's new police chief, Murphy Paul, and discussed her continued efforts to improve public safety. Over the past year, her administration has organized meetings in neighborhoods throughout Baton Rouge in order to boost community-police relations. "Better public safety means more than just increased law enforcement activities," the Mayor said. "It also involves participation and input from our community."
Watch Mayor Broome's address here.