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Adventures in Government - State of the City Expo

Most people are familiar with the State of the Union, a speech the President gives annually to Congress (and the public at large) about the current state of the country and the President's plans going forward.

What fewer people are familiar with is the fact that state governors often give a similar annual address, called the State of the State. Doug Doucey, for instance, gave Arizona's State of the State back in January.

What even fewer people may know is that in some cities the mayor gives a similar speech called the State of the City.

As someone born and raised in a small, rural town with nothing even close to a mayor, this was news to me. Even after living in Tucson for years, I had no clue about the State of the City address until my company got involved with the Tucson Metro Chamber.

And, within months of learning of its existence, I attended a State of the City. Yesterday, in fact. (I also attended State of the State, which I'll talk about some other time.) The State of the City took place March 16 at Starr Pass Resort and Spa. Unfortunately, neither the resort nor the spa played a big role in the experience. Mostly, we just stuck to the ballrooms.

State of the City is partially a public event. Anyone who knows where to go and when could simply show up and experience part of it, which might be worthwhile if you have an interest in free candy. (Which, I do.)

The State of the City address is technically a private luncheon in which the mayor addresses the attendees while they eat. However, outside of the private luncheon is a public expo, where local companies set up booths. Each booth contains information about the company, what they do, what they can offer you, and so on. And, as if the people exploring the expo area are children who need to be lured in by sweets, many of the booths keep large bowls of candy on their tables.

This tactic absolutely works, by the way. Candy is, in act, just as effective on many adults as it is on children.

I only took a couple of pieces of candy. I have an impressive sweet tooth, but with Easter around the corner (and, therefore, Cadbury Eggs in stores), I need to be strategic in my candy choices.

My wife, on the other hand, was only too happy to slip freebies into her purse. She joined me as we walked around to see what was on display, and when we passed any booth that was both unattended and offering candy, she took a piece or two. This way we managed to get free candy without also having someone watch us as we do it.

We also attended a VIP reception for a while, where people could meet and shake hands with Mayor Rothschild before the luncheon. Several people were chatting with the mayor when we arrived, but most people were talking in their own groups, catching up with old friends who, I assume, they only really get to see during these sorts of public events. Either that, or there's just something novel about standing around and talking to other people dressed in suits and dresses.

I like Mayor Rothschild. I think he does a good job. However, perhaps because I see him regularly in my frequent attendance at city council meetings, I don't feel a sense of awe when I'm around him. Perhaps this tendency to quickly begin to see people in power as regular humans is a good thing, since it's hard to really talk to someone if you're in awe of them. On the other hand, I worry that it's disrespectful to their position, to not seem at least a little impressed.

I've never been terribly concerned with propriety, which might prove to be a problem if I'm going to be meeting influential people over the course of this campaign. I apologize in advance if I ever give offense. I'm relying on my rustic sincerity to come off as charming, at least enough to make up for my lack of etiquette.

All in all, the event around the main event was fascinating in its own way. There were booths featuring all sorts of companies, from colleges and credit unions to charity organizations and the United States Border and Customs Protection. As in any expo, some booths were popular, some were not. Candy could get people to come closer, but it can't get people to stay.

Eventually, the doors opened to the ballroom for the private luncheon. I'll write up a report on that event next time.