EL PASO — Mayor John Cook gave his annual state of the city address on Wednesday at a luncheon hosted by the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce. The mayor talked about many things impacting El Pasoans such as transportation, our local economy and public corruption.
"We still have work to do but we're on the right track," said John Cordova.
Many people listening to the mayor's state of the city address were enthusiastic for our city's future.
"I think he's painted out that the city is headed in the right direction,” said Roy Gilyard with the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization. “We've created the vision. Now it's time to implement that vision."
One of the mayor's focuses - ways to improve travel in and around the sun city.
The mayor said we've made improvements with the city's billion dollar "Comprehensive Mobility Plan" which focuses on the city's hike and bike paths, highways and a new rapid transit system.
"It's encouraging to see the mayor talk about transportation... because that is key to our future success with our growth," said Cordova.
The mayor now wants to work towards alleviating unnecessary traffic in the city.
"What's not in the plan is the northeast truck bypass,” said Mayor Cook. “That has the potential for us to route commercial truck traffic around the city, rather than have a line of of 18-wheelers that cut through the city everyday."
Another focus is boosting the economy with the revitalization of downtown El Paso.
More than $200 million are pledged toward downtown revitalization. Mayor Cook wants to see a new downtown hotel.
"We have two challenges... one is convention space and the other is hotel rooms,” said Mayor Cook. “Why not combine them into one project... a public and private venture."
The mayor ended his speech talking about the negative light on El Paso because of public corruption cases, like the recent arrest of El Paso County Commissioner Willie Gandera, Jr.
"It becomes very difficult for us to address those negative perceptions and then at the same time people say, 'Well you know you talk about corruption in Mexico, look what you got in the United States, look what you got in El Paso," said Cook.
The mayor said each person needs to work on changing that perception.
"Watch your elected officials, hold them accountable, hold them to a higher standard and we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard to," Cook said.