After a start time delayed because overnight storms knocked out the power to Evangel University, Springfield Mayor Ken McClure delivered his annual “State of the City” address virtually to the community.
The speech, normally given to a select audience at the Springfield Chamber of Commerce’s “Good Morning, Springfield” event, streamed through the city’s website from a room on Evangel’s campus where the mayor delivered the last two State of the City addresses.
“The state of our city is strong and we are a strong community,” McClure said in his opening statements. “A colorful quilt sewn together using the fabric handed down by hard-working previous generations – those men and women who came before us – undeterred by difficulty, and who were resolved to blanket us with the materials needed to build a brighter future.”
The Mayor spoke of the impact the novel coronavirus lockdown has had on the community, specifically citing the work of Springfield-Greene County Health Department director Clay Goddard for being a strong leader during a time of great confusion for the community, calling him a “community friend” and “trusted mentor.”
McClure also praised the work of doctors, nurses, and those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. He pointed toward CoxHealth and Mercy’s efforts to take the time during the lockdown to get their facilities ready to handle any increase in cases once the lockdown was lifted in the community.
CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards was singled out for his leadership and for his willingness to be transparent with the community about what was happening within his organization. McClure noted that one of the biggest groups of emergency room doctors in the United States named Edwards the best hospital administrator in America for dealing with COVID-19.
McClure also referenced the heightened racial tension in America.
“The City does not, and will not, tolerate, nor accept in any way, the violent or disrespectful treatment of others that degrades dignity or disregards human life,” McClure said. “It’s up to all of us—black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of needed action here at home. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that is demonstrated in our lives and in our community.”
McClure praised police chief Paul Williams for his leadership of the department and his dedication to the diversity of his team. He cited the department’s eighth straight accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement as an example of the department’s high standards for policy, procedures, and community engagement.
McClure paid tribute to fallen police officer Christopher Walsh, killed in the line of duty in the Kum N’ Go shooting, and his partner Josiah Overton who was wounded in the attack.
The city’s current planning process for a new comprehensive plan received significant attention in the address; McClure calling it “our blueprint for the future.” He encouraged citizens to get involved in the process and cited surveys and community meetings that have already taken place to help guide the plan’s developers.
That planning process was the springboard McClure used to end the address, noting that the city has a chance to remake itself in the next few years.
“Following the pandemic, as I mentioned, there will be a reset – our chance to reimagine and recreate Springfield in a way we would have never experienced before this pandemic occurred,” McClure said. “We will emerge from this stronger than before. As everyone determines their new normal in the coming weeks, months and years, I want to use this time to map out the sunny days ahead. We live in a time that can sometimes be divisive, but we can CHOOSE to be united. We can reject hate and embrace love.”
The entire text of the mayor’s address can be found on the city’s website and the video can be viewed below starting around the 14:30 mark: