What Mayors Talk About When Everyone Is Listening

An annual report analyzing the "State of the City" speeches of 100 mayors finds remarkable consistency in messaging.

1 minute read

July 19, 2016, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Dallas City Hall

Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz / Shutterstock

Kelsey E. Thomas reports on the "2016 State of the Cities" report, released recently by the National League of Cities. Like in its previous iterations, the report performs a semantic analysis of the "State of the City" speeches for 100 cities from around the country, "including large cities like Los Angeles and Austin as well as midsize and smaller cities such as Eugene, Oregon, and Duluth, Minnesota," writes Thomas.

According to the report, "economic development was the top topic for mayors for the third year running, with 75 percent of mayors devoting 'significant coverage' to the theme in their speeches." Public Safety and Budgets followed in the second and third position of prominence. Infrastructure, previously at the second position on the list, fell to fourth.

According to Thomas, "[m]ore mayors talked about housing issues than ever before, largely driven by discussions of affordable housing."

Friday, July 15, 2016 in Next City

View of small-town street with brick buildings and cars parked in diagonal parking with string lights going across street in Cleveland County, Oklahoma.

Norman, Oklahoma Eliminates Parking Mandates

The city made a subtle, one-word change that frees up developers to build parking based on actual need and eliminates costly unnecessary parking.

September 14, 2023 - Next City

Few passengers waiting in subway station with multiple platforms and "North Station" signs in Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Transit Riders Report Safety Concerns

Almost three-quarters of current and former riders report feeling unsafe while using MBTA services.

September 18, 2023 - Hoodline

View of Boston from Bunker Hill with statue in foreground

Boston to Begin Zoning Code Update, Mayor Announces

It’s been nearly 60 years, but the city of Boston is finally ready to do a comprehensive rewrite of its zoning code.

September 14, 2023 - The Boston Globe

Sidewalk in Seattle with yellow fall leaves on the ground and cars parked next to the curb.

Proposal Could Mandate Sidewalks as Part of Seattle Complete Streets

Almost a third of the city’s neighborhood streets lack sidewalks.

September 24 - The Urbanist

View of San Francisco neighborhood from top of hill with misty bay in background.

San Francisco Supervisors Punt Housing Ordinance

After hours of public comment, the zoning reform package aimed at increasing housing production and limiting red tape was delayed for further discussion.

September 24 - SF Standard

Woman wearing helmet riding POGOH bike share bike in bike lane in Pittsburgh, PA.

Pittsburgh Launches Adaptive Bike Share Fleet

The new bikes include a recumbent bicycle and a front-loading cargo bike.

September 24 - Pittsburgh Magazine