Here’s an idea for the next mayor of Amarillo to ponder, although I don’t expect any immediate reaction to it.
The next mayor will take office shortly after the May 6 municipal election. So, how about crafting an annual State of the City speech?
I once pitched this notion during the time Debra McCartt served as mayor. She listened, more or less. McCartt responded by convening a session that was broadcast on Panhandle PBS (which was known then as KACV-TV). She visited with former Amarillo Economic Development Corporation CEO Buzz David and Amarillo Chamber of Commerce president Gary Molberg.
Now … think about that for a second. David at the time was paid to lead the job-creation effort for the AEDC; Molberg’s job is to be the city’s No. 1 cheerleader. What are these men going to offer in terms of the “State of the City”? The notion of talking to these two fellows — both fine men — was downright laughable if you were looking for any objective analysis.
I am hopeful that Ginger Nelson will be elected mayor this coming May — but you know that already. Whoever gets elected, though, ought to consider picking a venue to stage such an event. Then he or she should speak for about 30 minutes about the State of the City.
I believe it is helpful to hear from the city’s presiding government officer about how well he or she believes the city is working. Perhaps the mayor can limit remarks to what’s coming up, what lies in the city’s immediate future, offer some detail on ongoing projects for residents to consider.
Residents of other cities of comparable size hear from their mayors on an annual basis. Sure, I get that there could be a politicization of these events, given that we elect our mayors every other year.
I suppose the best way to avoid the accusation of a mayor using such a speech as a campaign event would be to schedule it soon after an election, say, in July or August of that year.
Such a speech from the mayor, moreover, would elevate that individual’s standing and give the mayor an additional “bully pulpit” from which to offer a vision for the city.
I get that the mayor and all four council members represent the same residents, that they’re all elected at-large. The mayor, though, is the mayor. It’s reasonable in my own mind to give the presiding City Council official a platform from which to lead.