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Mayor Gallego cites Phoenix’s strength, calls for masks in state of city address

PHOENIX – Mayor Kate Gallego highlighted Phoenix’s resilience in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and called for more action from the governor during a mostly optimistic state of the city address on Tuesday.

The 30-minute speech streamed on Phoenix’s YouTube page was constructed around the slogan of a “Stronger, Smarter, Greener, Better Phoenix.”

“Because we didn’t stop and didn’t give up when times were hard, Phoenix is now poised to charge full force out of the pandemic and lead the nation’s recovery,” she said.

It was Gallego’s second state of the city address and came weeks after she was elected to her first full four-year term. She won a special election in Nov. 2018 for the position vacated by Greg Stanton, who stepped down to make a successful run for Congress, and delivered her only previous state of the city in June 2019.

Gallego said state and federal pandemic responses – or lack thereof — amid a surge in COVID-19 cases will impact the city’s fortunes.

“While Phoenix has had a mask requirement in place since June, there is still no statewide mandate,” she said. “We can stick to this piecemeal approach, or we can do it right.

“Today, I called on Gov. Doug Ducey to issue a statewide mask order to help prevent new infections, and to keep that order in place until we have wide distribution of a vaccine, more effective treatments, or both.

Gallego thanked Congress for relief via the CARES Act, but she said the need remains for more funding to address the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

She also addressed police funding and behavior, contentious issues in 2020.

“This year, the Phoenix City Council has approved hiring new officers and increasing the department’s budget by $25 million,” she said. “At the same time, we have invested in body cameras and supported a civilian oversight office.”

Among other things, the speech also touched on the diversity of economic development and job creation around Phoenix, including the deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company for a multibillion-dollar investment on a production plant.

“As we head into 2021, we are at an inflection point,” she said before closing. “This has been a good year in spite of everything COVID threw at us.

“The virus did not defeat us; it made us stronger. As Phoenix emerges, we will be better than ever.”

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