“Buenas Noches, Bon Swa, Ahsalamelekim, Shalom, and to my seniors, Hey ‘Yall,” saluted City of Opa-locka Honorable Mayor “Lady” Myra L. Taylor, to approximately 500 guests which included residents, business owners, elected officials and other dignitaries, under a 40 x 80 tent in front of Historic City Hall, during her “all-inclusive” second annual “State of the City Address,” Friday, January 27, 2012 at 7:00 PM.
Dressed in her signature color red, surrounded by family, friends and a diverse congregation of well-wishers, the Mayor gave praise, expressed appreciation and made dedications, before acknowledging, “…those who came before me,” as she recognized seven previous Mayors with plaques, for setting precedent. Among those honored were Albert Tresvant (1975- 78), the City’s first African-American mayor; Willie Young (1978-80); Willie Logan (80-1982), the youngest Mayor of Opa-locka; Helen Miller (1982-84), the first female Mayor of Opa-locka; John Riley (1984-86); Robert B. Ingram (1986-98); Alvin Miller (1998- 02) and Taylor’s predecessor Joseph L. Kelley (2004- 10). Taylor also recognized members of the Commission, paying tribute to Commissioner Rose Tydus for being the first African-American City Clerk in Opa-locka and Miami-Dade County. The Mayor then confidently announced, “THE CITY IS FINANCIALLY STABLE!”
It was last year that Mayor Taylor introduced the metaphorical “Opa-locka Express Train” as the theme of her “State of the City” address, inviting EVERYONE to “Get on-board,” and noting, “The train is fueled and charged by your support!” This year, the Mayor continued her journey on the “Opa-locka Express Train,” by reporting that the City is “staying the course.” She mapped-out the progressive movement, current location, next stop, subsequent destination and the tracks covered by the symbolic “train,” through advancements made in Public Works, the Police Department, the City Manager’s office and through various departments and City programs. The Mayor proudly boasted about the many accomplishments which occurred over the past year, beginning with the February 2011 launching of the “Opa-locka Express” circulator (a FREE shuttle service for the community) and the revitalization of the Magnolia North neighborhood (formally nick-named the “Triangle”). She revealed that the Opalocka Community D e v e l o p m e n t Corporation, under the guidance of former Mayor Willie Logan, will receive a $28 million investment with funds from the National Endowment of the Arts and Habitat for Humanity, to replace abandoned buildings, vacant lots, metal barricades and other unsightly eyesores, with affordable housing, public artwork, a soccer field and tot lots… giving the area a complete renovation. Among other achievements, Mayor Taylor celebrated the fact that the City was able to avoid laying-off employees by making “a few adjustments” during the latest round of budget cuts. She cited changes, which included eliminating 11 unfilled positions and cutting salaries by four percent of employees earning $50,000 or more annually. Taylor remarked that the City still has room for growth; therefore, plans are being explored to expand its borders South to Northwest 95th Street, East to North Miami and West to Miami Lakes. “I want …to be recognized by our contemporaries as an organized city with purpose, persistence, passion and a plan,” said Taylor. “No longer will we just be IN a room, but SITTING at the ‘table of decision-making’ for the well-being of our community.”
In completing her speech, Taylor alluded to a revelation she gained while reading to her grand-daughter Dr. Seuss’ book, “Green Eggs and Ham.” She said, “I AM SAM … SAM I AM.” She continued, “Now these are definitive statements …he’s letting everyone know who he is – ‘I AM SAM.’” She asserted, “We must recognize WHO we are, and appreciate our uniqueness! Some people judge Opalocka on what they’ve never experienced… THEY DON’T KNOW WHO WE ARE,” she declared! “…and like the ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’ they DON’T KNOW HOW GOOD we are, until they really get to know us!”
Mayor Taylor and her husband of 41- years, Bishop John H. Taylor, have lived and raised eight children (several grandchildren) for over 34-years in the 4.5 mile radius of Opa-locka, among the 16,000 residents and 1,500 businesses in the City. The Mayor said she is extremely proud of the growth of the City of Opa-locka and in returning to her train analogy, she concluded, “I am persuaded that – one cannot stop a moving train!”
In addition to Mayor Taylor, other participants on the “State of the City” program were, Master of Ceremony Reverend Doctor Gaston Smith, President of the Baptist Ministers Council and Pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church; “Lady of Harp;” The City of Opa-locka Police Department Honor Guard; Miami Carol City High School Marching Band; seven-year-old Clarance Burt, III who recited the Pledge of Allegiance; School Board Member, Dr. Dorothy Bendross- Mindingal; The Brothers of Expression, New Beginning Embassy of Praise; songstress Angela Tillman and Singer/- Poet/Commissioner Rose Tydus. The ALL inclusive invocation was delivered in Spanish, Creole and English by Pastor Bobby Rosario of Capia Del Rey Ministries; Bishop Landry Jacob of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church; and Bishop Steven Foster who traveled with his wife, “Lady” Merle Foster, from Released Ministries International in Orlando, Florida, to take part in Mayor Taylor’s big night. The City of Opa-locka Commission members including Vice Mayor Dorothy “Dottie” Johnson, Commissioners Timothy Holmes, Rose Tydus and Gail Miller, were all in attendance to greet and receive guests.