Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams celebrated the accomplishments of his six-year mayoral role at the state of the city address Thursday.
Hosted by the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the address was Williams’ final state of the city as mayor.
Williams will be leaving office in May in accordance with the city’s term limits. Currently, the mayor and Arlington City Council members have a limit of three two-year terms.
The first issue Williams addressed was the city’s COVID-19 response. He praised the efforts of the Arlington Fire Department and said the methods they developed for safely testing residents of nursing homes have been used both statewide and nationally.
Williams also praised the vaccination efforts underway at Esports Stadium Arlington and Expo Center. He said there was nothing more uplifting than seeing someone get vaccinated.
“Every time we give that shot, we get closer to helping other people and of course saving lives, helping them stay at work and not be sick, and getting them back to school,” he said.
Williams then addressed the economic downturn Arlington faced in 2020. In response to the financial crisis, Williams said he and the Arlington City Council formed an economic recovery task force with members of the local business community. The efforts of the task force resulted in $23 million for small businesses across Tarrant County, $5 million in assistance for nonprofit organizations, $1 million for eviction prevention and $12 million for rental assistance, he said.
Williams said he inherited a strong economy when he became mayor in 2015, and he knew at the time there were opportunities to grow.
He said the development of the I-20 corridor has helped to bolster the local economy and has become one of Arlington’s largest employment corridors after adding businesses like Summit Racing Equipment, FedEx and UPS.
Williams discussed several opportunities for economic growth as Arlington emerges from the pandemic-induced downturn. He said businesses like Texas Live And the Live by Loews hotel are the first in a series of development plans around Arlington’s stadiums. He said the upcoming National Medal of Honor Museum will bring thousands of tourists to Arlington monthly.
The address also featured a video that showed Williams at the White House lobbying President Joe Biden for additional federal funds to help rebuild the community.
Another main talking point was the innovation of public transportation in Arlington. Williams said Arlington was formerly known as the largest city in the U.S. without public transportation but has now become one of the most innovative cities in that sector. The citywide expansion of the Via Rideshare service, improved road maintenance and the introduction of the first-ever driverless shuttle service all contribute to transportation innovation in Arlington, he said.
Williams also touched on the fight for racial equity. He said that following the social unrest caused by the killing of George Floyd, he brought the idea of a citizen committee that would study social equity to the city council. This idea eventually became the Unity Council.
“That’s really what the goal was for this group,” Williams said. “To bring together and create unity by treating people well and showing respect, and then looking for any areas of racial discrimination or other kinds of discrimination so that we can move forward and be a better place.”
He said the city is looking forward to implementing the recommendations from the Unity Council. Increasing minority-owned and women-owned business participation, creating a city-level executive position to oversee equity issues and creating a permanent Unity Council were some of the recommendations he highlighted.
Before the address concluded, a video from local business members, charitable organizations, elected officials and educators was played. They each thanked Williams for his six years of service for the city.
In his closing comments, Williams said he was proud of the citizens for making Arlington one of the top cities for innovation, job creation and tourism.
“We’re gonna work together to continue to make Arlington an even better place,” he said.“And yes, we want to make sure that there are many, many, many great days in Arlington.”