HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Speaking to a crowd of 1,600 plus business and civic leaders, Mayor Sylvester Turner called Houston a more financially stable, economically attractive and environmentally sensitive city under his leadership.
"I am pleased to report to you today that the state of our city is strong, resilient and sustainable and the best for us as a city is yet to come. Since 2016, city council has approved three balanced budgets and this fourth budget will be without layoffs or deferrals and will fund five police cadet classes for public safety," said Turner.
Turner's "State of the City" address included calls for a "bold" multi-faceted expansion of mass transit and a public/private partnership to generate a "green renaissance" of Houston's underserved parks.
As for the nagging issue of Proposition B, voter-approved pay parity for firefighters, Turner again offered what he calls a raise "the city can afford."
"It's important for the city to move forward. We don't have to litigate things all the time. The door is open and I am prepared to work with them," said Turner.
As Mayor Turner was extolling Houston as "stronger and more resilient" than ever, his principal political opponents were offering a much different view of his leadership.
Challenger Bill King contends the Turner administration has earned a failing grade on nearly every facet of governance from public safety to fundamental city services.
"Look, we've got revenues up dramatically since he became mayor, $480 million, and yet has anything improved? The streets are worse, the drainage is worse. We have fewer police officers and we are in a big fight with our firefighters. Homelessness and vagrancy are spinning out of control. Tell me anything that's better than it was four years ago?" said King.
Just minutes after Turner completed his speech, challenger Tony Buzbee launched an address literally one floor below.
The veteran trial lawyer laid out his own case for change, alleging corrupt pay-for-play practices, rampant gang crime, chronic homelessness, unchecked illegal dumping and grossly neglected streets.
"People all say the same thing, they say Tony man, we just want or trash picked up on time, we just want the streets better. We'd like to see a police officer every now and then. You know, we want to pay our firefighters. We don't want to spend millions training them and then they want to leave," said Buzbee.