The City of Leander is ready to move into a bold new chapter of development and growth and build upon its previous accomplishments, Mayor Chris Fielder said Tuesday during his final State of the City address.
After announcing earlier this month he will not be seeking reelection after six years as mayor, Fielder framed his final State of the City event as a recap of achievements the city has seen and spoke to the ideals and values the city strives for.
“Every issue that we’re dealing with today is a product of our success,” Fielder said. “Whether it’s our roads under construction, needing a new fire truck or hiring eight more police officers, it’s all a product of our success.”
Looking forward to his successor, Fielder endorsed mayoral candidate Vic Villarreal based on his qualifications to lead the city into the future.
“I think it’s time for fresh ideas and renewed energy,” he said. “It’s time for someone to take our city forward in the next few years to greater spots than where I took them over the last few. I can only think of one person to do that, and that’s why I’m standing behind Dr. Vic Villarreal. I’m excited to see what he could do.”
Fielder said some of his proudest achievements as an elected official were helping to adopt local property tax rate reductions in each of the last six years, passing the city’s 2016 general bond election propositions, overseeing the widening of Hero Way West, and initiating the development of the Texas Bullion Depository and ACC San Gabriel campus.
"Why has Leander been so successful? I know it’s because of the people and the way they think," Fielder said. "Leander has never been silent about things that matter."
Throughout most of his speech, the mayor recognized his administration for their diligent work and service to Leander. Visibly emotional, Fielder specifically expressed his gratitude for city manager Kent Cagle for his mentorship.
“I just want to thank you, Kent, from the bottom of my heart for all leadership you’ve brought to us over the years and things you’ve taught me...I’m not gonna cry all the way through this, I promise,” he said, slightly choked up. “Your friendship and your mentorship has been great.”
Fielder also took time to reflect upon how far the city has come since 2007 when he first joined City Council, pointing out Leander only had one fire station then. The Council approved their fifth station to meet growth demands last week.
Based on the city’s active water accounts, Leander’s population today is about 56,267 people, Fielder said. The city anticipates a population of 60,000 by this time next year, as many of the homes to meet that number are already under construction.
Fielder said in 2011, there were 325 single family home permits, and the latest numbers show there’s 1,603.
In his closing remarks, Fielder spoke highly of the current administration and expressed his confidence in their ability to move Leander forward.
“I think we have the right team in the right place,” Fielder said. “I am truly honored to serve with this city and this council. The past 11 years have been a true blessing. The past six years have been what dreams are truly made of. Thank you for allowing me to spend this time with you. May God continue to bless you beyond anything you’ve ever imagined and may God continue to bless Leander.”
Here's the mayor's speech in its entirety, provided by the City of Leander: