KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mayor Sly James delivered his eighth and final State of the City address Tuesday afternoon.
He addressed a couple hundred people at Rockhurst University, his alma mater. James has reached his term limit, so he isn’t able to run for re-election in 2019.
He described one of the saddest moments of his tenure: getting a phone call that a child had been killed in his bed, in a drive-by shooting.
“When I got there, I saw the police. I saw the ambulance. I saw the neighbors all out in the street,” he said. “But the thing that drew my most immediate and saddest attention was that young mother in her nightgown on her knees in the street with her hands in her sobbing face, crying out, ‘Why, why, why?’ over and over again and nobody having an answer.”
His answer to curbing crime has been a push for strong pre-K education.
James said the single most important thing we can do is make sure we’re providing a quality education for all of our children.
“We’re the adults here. They’re children. They can’t educate themselves. That’s our job,” he said.
James didn’t say much about his plans moving forward other than he probably won’t run for any other elected office — and a vacation is in his future.
While not everyone supported his methods or policy, James said we can all agree on a love for the city he’s led the last eight years.
“I’ve learned that we are no one’s understudy. We are not fly-over country,” he said. “We are instead recognized by this nation as a rising-star city. Kansas City has arrived.”
Watch the entire speech in the video player above.