SAN JOSE, Calif. - The annual San Jose State of the City address was held virtually on Wednesday as Mayor Sam Liccardo waited until almost the very end of the year to update residents on the current status of city affairs.
The original address was scheduled for last spring but was delayed to the COVID outbreak. Through social media and apps to spread his message, Liccardo said his city is suffering like never before.
"Between days filled with wildfire smoke, nights of civil unrest, weeks of rising hospitalization rates, and months of unpaid bills, we have been bruised and we have been battered," he said via his Facebook page.
The toll is seen in lost lives, such as Patricia Dowd, a San Jose resident and the first person to die from the virus here in the U.S. It’s also visible in shuttered businesses, and the resulting economic anxiety felt by millions of people. Still, Mayor Liccardo said success stories have renewed his faith in resident’s ability to weather the storm.
"We’re moving at speeds we never moved at before, because of the pandemic. And hopefully, these are learnings that we can translate into the future and be we can be proud of as we make real progress against these crises that are not going to abate with the pandemic," Liccardo said while appearing on Mornings on 2.
Those additional crises are going to fall squarely into the lap of mayors, according to University of New Haven political scientist Dr. Matthew Schmidt. He said on-going emergencies, along with the changing demographics of the country, have put mayors across America in a more powerful position post-COVID.
"Cities and mayors have become the epicenter for government in the United States. That was a trend that was happening anyway, because the country is majority urban for the first time in its history. That was accelerated by COVID," said Dr. Schmidt.
Liccardo believes history will shine a positive light on how he and the residents of San Jose weathered the turbulence of 2020.
"I believe that years from now we’ll be able to look back and look at these moments of collective resilience. Of courage. Of innovation that has emerged through this really difficult time, and be able to just describe a very different narrative for this moment," said Liccardo.
The mayor believes the best qualities of the city and its residents will be needed as San Jose begins the most perilous part of recovery: Dealing with the current virus surge and seeing vaccinations get to those most in need.