This week, the mayor will deliver the State of the City address, and it will be different than others in recent years for a myriad of reasons.
Wednesday at 6 p.m. within City Hall, Mayor Tyler Moore will give his first State of the City address. But, just as COVID-19 has affected all things, so too is the case with the address. Normally delivered nearer to the beginning of the year and in front of a full crowd, this year’s address will be closed the public and broadcast live by the city for those who wish to watch. During the speech, Moore said he intends to focus on how the city can be maintained at a time when unemployment has soared and COVID-19 has taken a toll on so many aspects of life.
“Because this will be my first – and although it’s been six months in, it’s been an interesting six months –there won’t be a lot of surprises. But it will be heavy in hope and optimism,” Moore said.
Moore rode a red wave into City Hall during last year’s election, garnering more votes than any other mayoral candidate in history.
During the initial months of his inauguration, Moore said he mulled doing the State of the City during the first quarter, as was the norm under former-Mayor Greg Goodnight, but he decided to wait as he adapted to the role of mayor.
“In February, although having previous county experience, I was still getting my arms around everything city government related,” said Moore. “I was still getting acquainted with the departments, the department heads. I had a relationship with a number of the department heads but was still understanding what all was going on.
“In preparation for this, I did take time with each of the department heads to say, ‘Brag about yourself. What have you done in the last year, in the last four or five months, that you feel is a feather in the cap for your department?’”
In a preview of what to expect this week, Moore said he will take time to highlight how each city department has operated during COVID-19 and also some of the newfound efficiencies that were discovered during the pandemic.
While Moore said he intends to recognize department heads, he also intends to recognize other individuals in the community, with a focus on those who played a vital role during the pandemic. Medical professionals, restaurant workers, the service industry, transit workers, and small business owners will all be given “shout outs,” said the mayor.
Moore also noted his speech will be a bit different than those of years’ past in another way.
While it’s common for the trajectory of a city to be laid out in such an address, Moore said a different focus will be concentrated on this week.
“I know a handful of folks have asked, ‘What’s your vision moving forward?’ Either fortunately or unfortunately, the vision that may have been placed back in January or February, especially after Chrysler’s announcements where we got a little bit of momentum, has changed,” said Moore. “Because now the initial part of that vision is to work to kind of take part of the community, salvage or help, work to sustain what may have been lost, what may have been sacrificed through the pandemic. Those that have either had to close businesses, alter how they did business, how services were provided, the initial part of that would be working to help the community to sustain in all aspects as we start to reopen but then also look at the opportunities that exist, not only with what was done in the downtown area by the previous administration but also, as I had mentioned prior to taking office, the need to look east.”
Moore said he hoped to signal that some of the wins for the city prior to COVID-19, such as the announcement by FCA US that ITP II would be transformed into Kokomo Engine Plant, still can be capitalized on. This could come in the form of the planned industrial park slated for construction near the newly-rebranded plant.
The mayor said he had hoped to have a more definitive announcement for that project to deliver during the address, but COVID-19 had stalled that project somewhat. Regardless, Moore said he hoped such projects still would come to fruition.
“I think the message would be that although the current pandemic situation kind of appeared to take some steam out of the sails, put a few more hurdles or roadblocks in the path, that the ship is going to stay righted, and it’s going to be full-steam ahead.”
To watch the speech live, tune into the city’s Facebook account “City of Kokomo – City Hall” Wednesday at 6 p.m., or at KGOV 2.com.