On Thursday, September 29, 2022, Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker gave her 2022 State of the City address at a Chamber of Commerce event held in Dickie's Arena. Through this address, she provided general ideas surrounding her administration's accomplishments since taking office in 2021, and a general vision for the future of For Worth. Below is an unofficial transcript of the mayor's address:
This transcript was manually performed by Southside Matt from the video published on the City of Fort Worth YouTube page. As such, its accuracy is not guaranteed.
(Nothing like) a little Grady Spencer, a Fort Worth boy with his song all about Fort Worth, Texas.
Thank you all for joining us here today for my first official State of the City.
First, I have to thank the Chamber staff for putting on today’s event, and, importantly, Dickie’s Arena staff for all of our wonderful food. Let’s give them a round of applause really quickly.
And to our corporate sponsors – because of your generosity we can actually have a luncheon like this and talk about the future of Fort Worth. So, thank you for stepping up as usual to make today’s event possible.
To my staff – you’re amazing; I truly appreciate you. It’s been quite a journey to get to this point in our tenure as mayor. I thank you very much. I love each of you. And to my awesome family that are here – my husband David, my parents, my in-laws. I couldn’t do this…without you. I really appreciate it.
Now the emotional stuff is over, right?
So, for the past year and a half, I’ve worked alongside an awesome city council who are all here today. I think they’re spread out across the room. Just stand up for just a minute, my council.
We’ve worked alongside our city’s staff all focused on making our city stronger. And truly what a year and a half it has been.
First, Congresswoman Granger and Congressman Veasey helped secure over $400 million in federal funding for the Panther Island/Central City Flood Control Project. And I’m so proud to tell you that this project is absolutely happening. It will transform the north end of Downtown.
Fort Worth, Tarrant County, saw Capitol and UNT Health Center partner together with TechStars, a global investment accelerator to bring ten high-growth, physical health startups right here into Fort Worth, Texas.
Texas A&M announced huge plans to expand their presence in downtown Fort Worth, which will also expand their major research facility. Even this Longhorn can give you a woot! on that announcement.
And TCU, of course, will celebrate its 150th year anniversary in 2023. Go Frogs!
And we were incredibly excited to break down on the Burnett School of Medicine at TCU.
And the latest announcement that I’m thrilled I get to share with you today is that Fort Worth’s own Taylor Sheridan, the creator of "Yellowstone" and "1883", is bringing the Bass Reeves television series right here to Fort Worth, Texas. Filming begins actually next month, bringing millions of dollars into our local economy. A huge opportunity to continue to put Fort Worth, Texas, on the map.
We have record numbers of new jobs created over the last year. And this is mind-blowing – over 328 people moved to our area every single year.
This is the state of Fort Worth. Strong. Prosperous. And Growing.
And all of you in this room deserve credit for this. And you should be so incredibly proud.
Ross Perot, Jr., was speaking at an event a few weeks ago and he told the audience, “If your city that’s not growing across this country, you’re dying.” And he’s absolutely right.
We can’t take this growth for granted, but it is imperative that we manage the growth and also have an amazing vision for our future.
President Ronald Reagan once said something to the effect of “all great change in America happens, begins at the dinner table.” And I agree with this, but I think what we’ve learned in Fort Worth, it’s not just what’s happening around dinner tables across our city, it’s also who’s invited to the table at large that really, truly matters.
We’re home, we’re home to an increasingly-diverse population of over one million people in this city. We range in age, in race, in profession, and in economic background, and political affiliation. Our strength as a city lies in those differences. And, remember, in Fort Worth, we attack problems and not people.
And so my biggest question for each of you here today is this: “What does it take to build a world-class city?”
So, I’m gonna take you through a couple of our challenges, what we’re doing about those, and really where we need to go into the future.
First, to be a world-class city, you have to get our students on-track and ready for the jobs of the future.
The foundation of all healthy, developed countries and international cities of significance, it all starts with education. The Fort Worth of tomorrow is absolutely being shaped in the classrooms of today. And without being world-class education, you can’t have a world-class city. And frankly we have to come to the realization in Fort Worth that we, the collective we, have not ensured that it’s actually possible for all students to be a part of our community’s shared success. And that success is directly connected to the success and future of Fort Worth.
A child’s life journey really starts on good footing before they’re born with the mother’s access to prenatal healthcare. And 90 percent of brain development happens between ages zero and five. And, yet, our investment in the State of Texas is completely backwards.
Current Texas public education funding looks like this: just under $1500 per child 0-5, and then over $12,000 per student K-12. But I’m telling you the future of education in this state depends on better investment in quality early childhood education and, importantly, support for our families across Fort Worth. Next legislative session I’m incredibly excited to work alongside my council members and the Tarrant County legislative delegation to make smarter investments for the next generation.
Locally we formed a blue-ribbon action committee, really focused on the childcare crisis which was honestly made worse by the pandemic. And earlier today you heard the Best Place for Working Parents Awards. Congratulations to each of these recipients, but I’m telling you that’s not just another plaque that goes on your wall. Importantly we understand that family-friendly policies are absolutely critical for top recruitment and top retention, and imperative that you have these things in-place to have a healthy workforce. Actually, it all starts with your employees’ families.
And, of course, the final step in cradle-to-career is the career. And we need a world-class workforce in this city right now, and unfortunately, we have an incredible skills gap across North Texas.
For example, it’s projected by 2030 in North Texas alone we’ll have a shortage of over 15,000 nurses in our region. We need nurses and data analysts and technicians, and these are all high-wage career paths.
Companies like Lockheed-Martin have shared that over the next 20 years they will hire over 38,000 people at their company. And a third of those individual hires will be their artisans who are responsible for building and sustaining their defense products.
The workforce need is truly mind-blowing. And at the same time, we’ve known for years that only 23 percent of our students are making it to a two-year or four-year credential. That’s why many of you in this room – our business community, our philanthropic community – stepped up to help us found the Tarrant To & Through Partnership, or T3, and I’m so proud to tell you that we’re making significant inroads, but there is still immense work to be done. Because we know that when adults demand better and get out of the way, our students actually succeed and surpass expectations.
Brandon Irvin is just one example. I got to meet Brandon this past May when we celebrated our early college high school graduates. These students graduate with a college degree from Tarrant County College at the same time they graduate from high school. Brandon graduated from Crowley Collegiate Academy and is currently a student at Texas Wesleyan University, and he is set to graduate in one year, and he is just 19 years old, y’all. I think Brandon may be with us, is he not? Please stand up and let’s celebrate him. There he is. Hey, Buddy.
I have good reason to be proud of Brandon and other students that are just like him and that are on similar tracks. But we need more students on more tracks and more pathways to higher-wage careers. So, we’ve created the Mayor’s Council on Workforce Educa, on Education and Workforce Development, chaired by Tom Harris, and this council is simply just a convener, just to come alongside our school district and our business leaders to intersect with our students and help them find those missing pathways to higher education or career.
This isn’t rocket science, y’all. In 2022 when someone like Jeff Bezos can build a spacecraft and fly to space in a terrible cowboy hat – we may need to take him to the Stockyards – cars can self-park, and a guy like Pete Davidson can land Kim Kardashian, I think we can figure this out. My vision is simple: that every single student in Fort Worth will have access to attain their credential or degree before they graduate high school.
Because that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you build a world-class city.
We know that education and career opportunities are really key to be successful, but as city leaders on this council and as your mayor it’s imperative that we focus on how to build a world-class quality of life.
So how do we create safer and cleaner neighborhoods and more-effective city services for all of our residents?
My #1 responsibility as your mayor is to focus on public safety. We know that violent crime across this country has risen and unfortunately Fort Worth is no different. Since April, our violent crimes unit has made over 792 arrests from felony warrants. We’ve had 82 homicides, 19 of which were caused by domestic violence. So, what are we gonna do about it?
First, we’re making investments that work for the community but also work for our police department for these most-difficult jobs that they’re doing every single day. Remember, we ask our police to be all things to all people all of the time, and these solutions are pro-police and pro-community.
Our budget just passed on Tuesday along with an additional ARCA designation. And here’s what it looks like: First, we launched a new partnership between Tarrant County, United Way, and the City of Fort Worth called the One Second Collaborative.
We’re just getting started to focus on fighting violent crime. And in your budget as taxpayers, we have 53 additional sworn officers that are all dedicated to neighborhood patrol, traditional patrol, and our Crisis Intervention Team. We also added 16 firefighter positions with more on the horizon.
It’s clear we’re prioritizing public safety as a city, but it’s also imperative that we focus on high quality of life for all of our residents. Because frankly bad public policy can ruin your city in a matter of months.
Many of you may have travelled to cities like Portland, or San Francisco, that are truly struggling right now with basic city services. So, it all has to start with us being really smart with your tax dollars. There’s been a lot of chatter across Texas in the last year about property taxes and affordability. And frankly I think those conversations absolutely need to be had. Right now, in Fort Worth we’re prioritizing the right things still having to keep up with being the fastest-growing city.
We approved a two-cent tax rate reduction in your tax rate. But, in addition to that, we’re also focused on really making new investments to our community that are new and different. This leadership brought us an opportunity with really an ambitious goal – What would it look like to be the cleanest city in the country?
This includes addressing Code Compliance in our waterways, homeless camp cleanup, and litter abatement. This city of nearly one million people currently has two street sweepers. Because of this budget, we’ll move from two to twelve. We currently have three litter abatement crews. Because of this budget, we’ll go from three to ten litter abatement crews, thanks in special partnership with the Presbyterian Night Shelter and the UpSpire program. We have the opportunity to hire formerly homeless individuals, giving them the dignity of work but also allowing them to help us make the city beautiful. We know that one of the most difficult issues facing any American city right now is homelessness. And in Fort Worth we’re not just investing in city-sanctioned homeless camps. That’s the wrong policy and you’re seeing it pop up across the country. Instead, we’re focused on investing in housing and services for our homeless individuals. In partnership with Tarrant County and the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition, I can proudly tell you that these policies are the right policies to serve our homeless. We’re making historic investments in housing and services and we’ve committed to nearly 500 units, thanks to partnership with Tarrant County an additional 100 units to serve homeless families right here in our community. These are things that we absolutely should celebrate.
And I see Judge Whitley here – thank you, Judge, for leading the Commissioners Court to these solutions. We thank you.
As one of the fastest growing cities in the country, we also have a responsibility to expand and protect our open space. This is crazy, but in 2020, staff discovered that we were losing 50 acres a week to development. And today I can tell you we’ve proudly saved 150 acres of open space for future generations across our city. This is natural landscape that needs preserving. When it comes to how this city really functions, I talked about what we’re doing right.
I talked about the open space program that was started by Jennifer Dyke, one of the City of Fort Worth employees doing awesome work, but it’s also people like Capt. Matthew Grant. Capt. Grant is a Fort Worth firefighter, and just a few weeks ago, he saved this woman from rushing floodwaters, but if you look closely, he didn’t just save her life, he also managed to save her purse, which I thought was a picture worth showing of a very smart man, indeed. Congratulations to Capt. Grant. I know that lady was very definitely thankful.
Many of you have probably heard me say this before, that when you think about our current City Hall, we right now, the basement is really not a place that really endears a sense of innovation and opportunity if you’ve been down there. And, um, sometimes I’ve really worried that really great economic opportunity and ideas go to die in the basement of City Hall.
But that’s currently where we’ve had our amazing development services team that do incredible work with a shortage of dollars and focus, and we’re changing that with this budget thanks to the council’s support. Right now, we process around 19,000 building permits per year, an average of three weeks to get your permit – I’m looking out in the audience, I can probably tell many of you had a different, a different, uh, touchpoint at City Hall. I get it. We have major room to improve.
So, here’s how we’re focused. Within one of my first meetings of coming into office the first few weeks, I sat down with my friend D.J. Harrell who runs Development Services Department, I asked DJ, “What do you need to run your department in a better way?” So, we started this process and it was all prioritized in this budget to really streamline city employees, focus on customer service, and I’m incredibly proud of the prioritization to make this possible.
And, by the way, we’re just getting started. In our new City Hall, the Development Services floor will be a one-stop shop. In my vision for this for the future is really this: is that we run City Hall like all of you run your business – better results, ahead of schedule, with a “get to yes” attitude at no extra cost to the taxpayers. Because whether you’re a multi-million-dollar project or you’re just a homeowner trying to fix your fence you deserve world-class customer service at Fort Worth City Hall.
And you’re gonna get to do it in this fabulous new space.
We want City Hall to be an innovative model for the entire country. And you have my word that it absolutely will be.
So, we keep building on this concept of a world-class city. And you also have to be able to get around in it. So, how do we create better transportation mobility solutions for our economy and for our workforce? I think by now basically all of you that drive around this city know that everything is under construction – the red reflects construction – um, and we’re really working to keep up with mobility infrastructure and demands of a very fast-growing city. We’re playing catch-up, but I think we’re forward-focused with the right vision.
From 2018 to 2026, we’re investing more than $3.5 billion in transportation infrastructure projects. We know these will pay dividends in mobility solutions across the entire region.
We also need to chase the private sector on where they’re going and moving the mobility innovations. And lucky for us it’s happening right here at Alliance, led by Mike Berry and Hillwood at the Mobility Innovation Zone. It’s imperative we partner with companies like these, you’ll see, that incubating solutions in our own backyard because the future of mobility is right here in Fort Worth.
World-class customer service and world-class cities, also accompanied by world-class transportation. And I think in Fort Worth we’ve always struggled around this, but I’m telling you world-class cities also have world-class public transportation.
I’m incredibly excited by the new leadership of Rich Andreski who is the CEO of Trinity Metro. And when it comes to public transportation, we must meet two important objectives: First, is we have to meet the needs of our residents who depend on public transportation to get to work, to further their education, or to have access to healthcare. And second, we need transit projects to spur economic development. We know this works. You should see countless examples across the country. We also have several priority projects we’re working on right now. One is the East Lancaster Corridor Redesign Project; two is the Trinity Lakes Station in East Fort Worth – it’s set to open in October of 2023; and, third is the important extension of TexRail that takes you from the airport into Downtown, and soon to be into the Medical District.
By the way, nex, last month, Trinity, or our TexRail station or TexRail line saw 47,000 riders over the month. You’re gonna see significant ROI in these investments, and it’s really thanks to partnerships like we have with Trinity Metro, North Central Texas Council of Governments, TXDOT, and Tarrant County to make all of these projects possible.
Now, you can’t headline a Chamber event without also talking about economic development. So, the question for me is, “What does it take to build opportunity around attracting innovative companies and ideas right here to Fort Worth?”
In one my first meetings I had with John Goff, we were talking about the Texas A&M University project. Yes, two Longhorns, Aggies, talking about Texas A&M and bragging about Texas A&M. And we really were focused on what the opportunity was in North Campus. And John said something profound – that this project, we are changing the architecture of our city. And I could not agree more. These projects you’re seeing in these pictures reflect just a few examples of announcements we’ve all made in the last year. Imagine where we’re going in 2023 and beyond.
This is not just about jobs. It’s about discovering the next American Airlines, or Lockheed-Martin, or Alcon, or Bell. Jobs and corporate growth are also critical to supporting and expanding our small business community. Congratulations to all of our small business recipients that received awards today, because truly you’re at the heart of world-class cities and economic development right here in Fort Worth.
Remember, we’re not Dallas, or Nashville, or Austin. We’re doing all this in a way that respects the history and heritage of Fort Worth. And we are forward-focused on being a city that embraces a global economy. Our world-class facilities in this city – destinations like the Fort Worth Stockyards, the Cultural District, the Fort Worth Zoo, the soon-to-be-renovated Convention Center, and, of course, this beautiful Dickie’s Arena – are welcoming more than 9.4 million visitors per year from all over the world.
Even with Fort Worth’s long and rich history, this is still a city that’s just getting started. Our pioneering spirit and continued legacy from one generation to the next. And ensuring that we leave this place better than we found it.
Many of your probably recognize that quote from former mayor Bob Bolen, a man that all of us really admired. Mayor Bolen instilled in us a sense of leadership to our entire city.
And all of you are leading and finding ways to make sure Fort Worth truly is a world-class city.
Think about what the nation has been through in the last several years. And then stop and think about examples of governments that don’t work and are completely broken.
Fort Worth is part of the Heartland of America with tremendous opportunity. And our ability to work together, to come to the table will absolutely set us apart.
There are people all over Fort Worth who are quietly showing leadership and making this city the very special place that it is. And I call them our Unsung Hero Awards. Let me mention to you one just now.
Judge Brent Carr. Judge Carr served as a U.S. Marine and then started serving Tarrant County in 1983, by the year the same year I was born. He joined the District Attorney’s Office and now is presiding over a bench in Tarrant County with three specialty courts – a mental health court, a court focused on treatment of veterans, and the third is a court devoted to women who have experienced or been involved in sex trafficking. Judge Carr has made an incredible impact on Fort Worth and helped countless thousands of individuals imply by giving them a second chance.
Yes, I do think that great change does happen around the dinner table, but it often happens more-often when we have people like Judge Carr who are making sure that all people have a seat at the table.
We’re sad to see Judge Carr retire at the end of this year. I think he certainly earned it, and that’s why this year I’m giving him the Inaugural Mayor’s Unsung Hero Award.
I had to surprise Judge Carr because he doesn’t like the limelight and he wouldn’t have come if we had told him he would have to stand up and get an award. That’s just how he is.
In closing, as your Mayor I want to make sure that we are building a stronger and safer Fort Worth, that we are nurturing thriving families, and that we’re ensuring that every resident in every ZIP Code across Fort Worth can experience the highest quality of life. Because, Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s what it take to build a world-class city.
Thank you all for being here today.
Southside Matt has submitted a list of questions that arose from this address and will post the responses in an upcoming article.