With more than 1,500 present, Mayor David Holt delivered his annual State of the City address to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and other guests Wednesday.
“The state of the city… is triumphant,” Holt declared at the beginning of his speech to the packed banquet room. He said that division is like a dragon laying siege to America and the people of Oklahoma City have slayed that dragon.
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Holt told the business crowd that Oklahoma City is in the midst of the largest street improvement project in city history with $800 million being put into street repairs and improvements through the Better Streets Safer City initiative. He also pointed out the $250 million earmarked for transit improvements
Most of Holt’s speech extolled the virtues of MAPS 4. He spoke often of “quality of life improvements” and listed non-core “needs” including the multi-pupose stadium, the State Fair arena, and improvements to Chesapeake Arena.
Holt went on to say that with the recent MAPS 4 vote the city has expanded what we mean in OKC when we say “Quality of Life.”
In years past, Holt said, we would measure the quality of life by how clean our air was or limited traffic. Now we have basketball and some jobs, you see.
Holt said the Thousand Island dressing on the Big Mac that is Oklahoma City, is compromise.
Technically he just said “secret sauce,” but I want to make sure you, gentle reader, know that the Mayor was comparing Oklahoma City to a hamburger sandwich.
MAPS 4’s #1 Fan
“No one person, apart from me, liked all sixteen projects in the MAPS package,” said Holt. But, he went on to point out, even the least popular project had a 58% approval rating in a “scientific poll.”
Holt said that this nation needs to return to the ideal of “win-win outcomes.”
He didn’t say when our nation was focused on that type of outcome.
Holt celebrated the successes he sees in MAPS 3 projects.
He touted the arts scene in OKC, as well as the film and television industry that he says is booming in our city.
He said that Olympic athletes train here and a number of national-level sports events have found a home in the metro because of the building up of infrastructure. The Oklahoma River and the Softball Hall of Fame facility are two capital improvements that have become national venues.
“We are truly the American home of softball and are proud of that status,” he said referring to the softball facility.
The Mayor pointed out that he has no control over education, but went on to say that he’s fostering a conversation with stakeholders around the city, trying to foster openness and honesty, in hopes of finding policy solutions applicable to the city.
He said his friend, the Mayor of Tulsa, was fostering similar conversation and–who knows–maybe the conversations can lead to statewide reforms or ideas.
The mayor said that if diversity is not represented at the leadership table, we need to build a bigger table.
With that, he introduced the only MAPS 4 project he hadn’t talked about in the speech thus far.
The Freedom Center and Clara Luper Center has $25 million allocated to it in the current MAPS plan, something he said wouldn’t happen if the city weren’t listening to all communities.
Lean on Me
At the end of the speech, Mayor Holt led the crowd in clapping on the downbeats of the popular eighties hit Lean on Me as Campbell Walker Fields played and sang the song with the assistance of the Classen choir.
The next State of the City speech will be next year, provided the world has not ended by then.
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