It’s “State of the … ” speech season

It’s the time of year when city, county and even university leaders try to highlight their accomplishments and goals. Why are there so many of these speeches?


It’s unofficially “State of the [fill in the blank]” Season in Michigan. State of the Union, State of the State, State of the City, State of the County. The list goes on.

As part of the weekly series MichMash, Slate’s Cheyna Roth and WDET’s Jake Neher talk about why there are so many of these speeches, and why it might be worth tuning in.

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Following the governor’s State of the State speech, local officials have been giving their own speeches highlighting their accomplishments and things they’re excited about in the near future.

For example, recently Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan gave his State of the City speech.

“This is going to be a night where we’re going to talk about where we’ve been and where we’re going,” Duggan said during his speech, which sums up these speeches quite well.

Other speeches coming up very soon will include the State of Oakland County speech from County Executive Dave Coulter. Other county leaders will give their speeches soon. We’ve even seen university presidents giving “State of the University” speeches around this time of year.

But what is the point of all these speeches?

“I think that you’ve seen these ‘state ofs’ kind of proliferate a little bit, because it is a good way to get your message directly to the communities that you serve.” —James Martinez, CraftWord LLC

James Martinez is the founder and creative content strategist for CraftWord LLC. He’s the former communications director for Wayne County Executive Warren Evans. Martinez has written addresses for state of the county, state of the city and campaign speeches.

He says there is an over-saturation of theses speeches. One reason — at least in part — is a reflection of our current media environment. Newsrooms are spread thin, and are not able to cover as many local meetings, even where millions of dollars in spending are being considered, he says.

“And so I think that you’ve seen these “state ofs” kind of proliferate a little bit, because it is a good way to get your message directly to the communities that you serve,” Martinez said. “And I think, when done right, they serve an important function.”

Local politics and policy matter

There’s a good argument to be made that local politics matter to you individually more than what’s happening with the president or the governor. The issues local officials are likely to be talking about in these speeches are more likely to affect you directly where you live or work.

The other thing about them is that they give you a really good sense of what your local public officials think are the right ways to spend their time, money and other resources. Because those are also your resources.

These speeches give you the rosiest view of their records and accomplishments, so take it all with a grain of salt. But watch, listen or read about these speeches with this question in mind: Do these officials care about the things that I care about?

More from MichMash:

New effort to extend term limits has legs

Michigan races heat up between incumbents of same party

Bills would crack down on lying petition circulators

Whitmer’s budget turns heads in election year

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  • Jake Neher
    Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
  • Cheyna Roth
    Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.