October 10, 2020

Mallory Herrmann
Staff Reporter

Mayor Bill Baird gave his annual state of the city address last week, acknowledging many of the struggles that the City of Lee’s Summit has faced this year, praising the community’s resiliency and voicing optimism for the future.

Unlike previous years, in which the state of the city was addressed to a large crowd and followed by a reception, the mayor spoke at the city council’s regular session on Sept. 29. Like most of the council’s meetings over the last several months, it was held in a hybrid format with councilmembers and staff attending both masked inside council chambers and remotely via teleconference.

Baird reminded the council that it has been nearly six months since he declared a state of emergency for the city on March 17, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe. Since then, there has been a movement to “survive, innovate, thrive.”

He called for caution as we head back into cooler weather months and spend additional time indoors, asking citizens to strive for “a return to a healthy, vibrant community in the spring.” Baird also suggested that the city explore the formation of its own new health department, saying that a regional approach to fighting the pandemic “never materialized” and citing a struggle to get on the same page with the Jackson County Health Department.

Baird noted the civil unrest across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers and called for a willingness for city leaders to have tough conversations and make difficult decisions. He asked for the council’s support of a diversity and inclusion commission, an initiative he first suggested at his 2019 state of the city address.

He also reiterated the importance of the Ignite Strategic Plan, a strategic planning process to develop a long-term vision for the community.

“We need to have faith in each other and in our citizens,” Baird said. “Let us fix our sights on our shared vision.”