Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor delivers the Sterling Heights State of the City address at the Sterling Heights Community Center Sept. 30.

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor delivers the Sterling Heights State of the City address at the Sterling Heights Community Center Sept. 30.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Mayor keeps it positive during state of city address

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 12, 2022


STERLING HEIGHTS — Opening with a video montage of angry politicians and media figures, Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor contrasted this with a positive message during his Sept. 30 State of the City Address.

During his address, held at the Sterling Heights Community Center, Taylor said he avoids cable news and mostly avoids Facebook these days because discourse has become “toxic” in many ways.

“Our national discourse has really devolved recently into an endless loop of incivility, bickering, fighting and constant negativity,” he said. “This cycle of negativity has infected our politics, our news and our society as a whole. So the question I ask myself is, how do we break this cycle?”

Taylor proposed a role model, the fictional TV character Ted Lasso. The character is an American football coach who overcomes skeptics and cultural differences while coaching an English soccer team.

“Ted is a bit of a hero of mine, and he’s someone I’ve tried to emulate as a mayor,” Taylor said.

“Ted Lasso has a superpower ± and if you’ve seen it, you know what I mean. He is an eternal optimist. No matter what happens around him, Ted stays positive and he finds the good in people. … So in a world where insults and derision and skepticism and distrust are the norm, Ted Lasso rises above it all.”

Taylor said if national leaders can’t embrace positivity, then cities should be “agents for positive change” that take on the big issues.

The importance of public trust was another primary plank in Taylor’s presentation. He said trust is a cornerstone of any successful organization, and he mentioned that while general trust in government is at “all-time lows,” he said trust in local government “remains very high.”

He cited the Sterling Heights Police Department’s devotion to transparency through an online dashboard that it recently added, as well as successfully completing an accreditation program through the Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission.

Taylor mentioned efforts to build trust with minority populations. He listed City Hall’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion programming; welcomed the Sterling Heights African American Coalition’s celebration of Juneteenth at Dodge Park; and celebrated the passage of a city antidiscrimination ordinance protecting the LGBTQ+ community.

Taylor also highlighted the importance of community engagement. For instance, he explained how the city was working with the Warren and Utica school districts, adding that the city recently hosted a school safety forum.

“Instead of bickering and fighting and negativity, Sterling Heights is leading the way by staying positive and just focusing on getting things done,” he said.

When it comes to innovation, Taylor pointed out the city’s commitment to sustainability, such as converting streetlights to LED, planning electric vehicle charging infrastructure, planning to add bike lanes to Plumbrook Road and introducing a new library bike-share program.

“I think cities can and should help nudge people towards more environmentally friendly modes of transportation,” he said.

Taylor also talked about the broader “Golden Corridor” of Hall Road, citing amenities like Jimmy John’s Field, Urban Air Adventure Park, Lakeside Mall, Macomb Community College, Partridge Creek and C.J. Barrymore’s. He called on neighboring communities to work with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel on a unified Hall Road master plan “to take this multijurisdictional corridor to even greater heights.”

Another area of the city that Taylor focused on was Ryan Road, particularly around 15 Mile Road, due to it hosting a large Chaldean population and business community. He said he wanted to see wayfinding, signage and an official designation for the area as “the home of the world’s largest concentration of Chaldean immigrants here in the United States, living together.”

“With the Chaldean Community Foundation’s beautiful 20,000-square-foot building anchoring the corridor, Ryan Road is the main thoroughfare for residents who want to experience authentic Chaldean cuisine and culture,” he said.

“These diverse businesses enrich Sterling Heights and provide Chaldeans a connection to their past, and give non-Chaldeans like me the opportunity to expand our horizons without leaving the city.”

And when mentioning how the Halo sculpture was lit different colors to spread awareness for various causes throughout the year, he said it “stands tall” as an example of the city’s positivity and “desire to stand apart from the crowd.”

“Now, I don’t need to tell anyone in this room that we took a lot of criticism over the Halo on Hall Road,” he said. “But despite all the negativity, all the insults, the dirty names, I think we took a negative and truly turned it into a positive.”

After promising additional public art and embracing the return of the Sterlingfest Art and Music Fair, Taylor said he wants Sterling Heights to be the model and set the standard for every city to follow, including those across the country.

He previewed other upcoming attractions in the city, adding that the North Van Dyke District project is starting to take shape, new housing developments are underway, and the city is considering new parks, trails and community gardens. And he added that, “We are so close to making a major announcement on the Lakeside Mall project.”

“It’s been a great 12 months in Sterling Heights,” he said. “And I’m excited for the upcoming year, too.”

After the meeting, Sterling Heights Councilwoman Barbara Ziarko commented on Taylor’s address and its theme of positivity. Ziarko also is currently the president of the Michigan Municipal League.

“Positivity is contagious,” she said in a text message. “Sharing our success story with other communities throughout the state will be an inspiration and example of leaders working together for the benefit of our residents.

“We are a proud and prosperous community because of our residents and business partnerships and that message is easy to share with others.”

Learn more about Sterling Heights by visiting or by calling (586) 446-2489.