Mayor's Office Press Release
Mayor Sylvester Turner Cancels "State of the City" Annual Speech with the Greater Houston Partnership
May 5, 2021 -- Following the organization's failure to denounce voter suppression bills under consideration in the Texas Legislature, Mayor Sylvester Turner today announced his decision to cancel the annual State of City address hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP).
The speech focusing on Houston's accomplishments and goals is given annually to an audience of business and community leaders. This year, Mayor Turner will partner with Houston First to hold the State of the City address.
"I think it's important for me to find a venue that better reflects the diversity of our city and the values we hold dear," Mayor Turner said. "You cannot remain silent or neutral on voter suppression. Bad things happen when good people do nothing."
The mayor announced his decision alongside Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who also said she does not plan to deliver the "State of the County" in coordination with the GHP.
Both leaders applauded ten GHP members who asked the organization's leadership to schedule a vote of its members to consider taking a stand on SB7 and HB6, which would limit polling hours and ban drive-through voting, among other restrictions.
Mayor Turner also praised more than100 business leaders who sent a letter to Texas House Speaker Dan Phelan criticizing the voter suppression bills known as Jim Crow 2.0 and defending the right of all eligible Texans to vote in elections without fear of retaliation.
"Houston First Corporation is honored to have the opportunity to host Mayor Turner for his signature event, the State of the City address, where he will lay out his vision for the future of our city. Large-scale events and productions are part of our business portfolio. Our team is immensely talented, and I have no doubt the event will be anything less than fantastic. We look forward to working closely with the mayor's office on confirming a date and other planning details," said Chairman David Mincberg.
Representatives from the NAACP, LULAC, the Anti-Defamation League, FIEL Houston, the Greater Houston Black Chamber, and others joined Mayor Turner and Judge Hidalgo at Wednesday's announcement.
In addition to suppressing votes in communities of color, laws which restrict voter access can have substantial negative economic consequences due to lost earnings and related reductions in consumer spending, according to noted economist Ray Perryman who shared the results of his research with Houston City Council and Harris County Commissioners Court.
"In this city, in this country, and this county, everyone should be standing up against voter suppression. If we do not stand up and speak out, then we must hold ourselves accountable for what is happening," said Mayor Turner.