Mayor Sylvester Turner delivered his annual state of the city address on Wednesday, Oct. 13, focusing on Houston’s resiliency during both the pandemic and several natural disasters while also touting the city’s progress as a leader in technology and innovation and work to uplift under-resourced neighborhoods.
For the first time, Mayor Turner partnered with Houston First Corp. to host the annual address, which drew a sold-out crowd of nearly 1,500 business and community leaders. The theme of this year’s speech was “We Always Rise,” which included prepared remarks by the mayor followed by a fireside chat with Emmy-award-winning Houston journalist Linda Lorelle. Elizabeth Gonzalez Brock, vice president, Energy Solutions and Business Services, Centerpoint Energy, and Cindy Clifford, president, the Clifford Group, co-chaired the event.
“I am looking over this room, and I see a lot of tables and a lot of people and a sold-out crowd,” said Mayor Turner. “It says to me, and I hope it says to you, that in this city, challenges will come, and there will be a lot of things we cannot prevent. But we can say, we will continue as a city to work together, our diversity will not be a liability, but together we will work to make things happen.”
During the speech, the mayor thanked healthcare workers, frontline employees, and the many essential service industry personnel who risked their health and safety to provide services during the pandemic. He also acknowledged parents, students, teachers, and education employees who were forced to make significant adjustments when schools shut down and businesses faced declines in revenue.
“Despite our challenges, we did not stand still, and in our city, we did not turn back,” said Mayor Turner.
While the pandemic has taken a toll on many sectors of the economy, the mayor pointed out that “over the last 19 months, we never shut down residential and commercial construction.” As a result, several new or enhanced business ventures and entertainment venues throughout the city have opened and have drawn significant crowds. The mayor also recognized how less traffic on the roads during the pandemic aided the pace of many street construction projects, an important step in making the city streets and sidewalks more accessible.
“Whatever we have faced in the past, that is the past. And now, today, the sun is shining, Houstonians are finding their mojo, and we have decided that we do not seek to be second. We seek to be first. We do not want to be a city of two in one. We want to be one city that, no matter where you come from, or your language, religion, faith, age, or sexual orientation, in this city, we stand and rise as one. Welcome to the new dawn of our future,” said Mayor Turner.