SAN ANTONIO - Mayor Ivy Taylor presented the annual Mayor's Vision for San Antonio presentation Tuesday, her first major mayoral address to the business community.
Taylor presented her keynote presentation to the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. She used the speech to outline the approach she'll take to lead the city for the next 10 months.
"This will be a team effort. My teammates are the city council members, city staff, other governmental entities and most importantly each and every one of you in the room today," said Taylor.
The speech touched on her vision for the primary issues affecting business, community and quality of life in the Alamo City. Taylor said the only way to address those and many of the issues impacting residents is through the development of a comprehensive master plan. She turned to the San Antonio Spurs to drive the point home
"A comprehensive city master plan crafted jointly by stakeholders led by citizens addressing our problems in innovative ways, that's as exciting as the Spurs passing game," she said. "Just as our five-time NBA champion Spurs showed the world that basketball also is a beautiful game, my aim is to turn on its head the idea of planning as boring. Are there any believers in the house? I know there another planner in here that thinks planning is sexy."
To develop the plan Taylor said she would create a Citizen's Leadership Academy. The group will allow residents to play an active and informed role in planning their own future. She also plans to establish a Community Advisory Board that will bring together major stakeholders and institutions like SAWS, CPS Energy, Bexar County, the San Antonio River Authority, business and community groups, and a Council Committee that will grant City Council ownership and leadership of this multi-year initiative.
The speech gave local business leaders their first glimpse of Taylor's leadership style. Rob Killen, chair-elect of the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, liked what he heard.
"I think we're going to see a real change at city hall," said Killen. "She's going to bring in her own unique leadership style and we're looking forward to working with her."
Taylor is the second female mayor of San Antonio and first African-American to hold the position. She was elected after outgoing Mayor Julian Castro was appointed secretary of Housing and Urban Development in July.
Taylor said her decision to not seek reelection in 2015 gives her an opportunity many city leaders rarely have – a chance to openly speak her mind.
"I will be doing that over the next 300 days," she said.
CALLS FOR CHARTER AMENDMENTS
While there were no major surprises in her speech, many people were shocked to hear Taylor call for the development of a series of city charter amendments.
"This is an opportunity to not only restore accountability, but also to make our government, your government, function more effectively," Taylor said. "There's been discussion about several things from transportation to council pay to the one that's top of mind for me is the process for selecting a mayor in the event that the current mayor leaves."
Taylor said a charter amendment may also be needed to clarify the implementation of the city's non-discrimination ordinance. She wants to ensure that residents know where to go to file a complaint.
"We can't pass ordinances and let them linger. We must fulfill our promises if everyone is going to feel that they have a role and place in San Antonio," she said.
It will be up to City Council members to draft the amendments, a process that some members said is long overdue.
"When you change the charter just once that means you are blacked out for two years, so you might as well talk about the effectiveness of council pay, changing the amendment of how to replace mayors, and potentially having the conversation of rail for the city's future," said District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña.
Despite Taylor having only 300 days left in the mayor's office, District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg said the group can get the job done before the next mayor is elected.
"I have every confidence that under the mayors leadership we'll be able to address a lot of these significant issues that have plagued the community for years," he said."
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