The new and returning members of the City Council were sworn in on January 1st. I look forward to the coming Council term, and hope we can continue working together on behalf of our community. In case you are interested, the text of my inaugural speech follows.

Inaugural Statement

My Fellow Citizens:

In this modest chamber, only the great seal of the city, grander than its setting, suggests the importance of the work before it. So it is with this ceremony. Also modest in form and appearance. Yet grand in meaning.

We celebrate the continuity and endurance of our democratic institutions. And, in the cleansing spirit of a new beginning, we refresh our hopes.

Our hopes for a strong community, in which every person has a valued role. Our hopes for a vibrant economy, lifted by commerce and investment. Our hopes for a good government, that honors the call of service with integrity and innovation. Our hopes for fellowship among the myriad groups and traditions within New Rochelle, now as always, the great strength and the great challenge of our city.

These are not idle ambitions, that are blind to the hard reality of obstacles. We know well the problems that beset New Rochelle. But we affirm here and now that no challenge can conquer us. And we resolve that with courage and conviction, with our hands, we shall build a better city.

This means many things.

It means listening with respect to every voice, while remembering that the loudest is not always the wisest. It means trusting the people to confront choices candidly presented, but also making hard decisions when they meet the test of conscience. It means honoring our rich history, but never permitting nostalgia to take the place of vision. It means cooling the partisan passions that have too often divided us, but not shrinking from tough battles when principle demands that we fight.

Above all, it means placing our problems in their proper context, so that we can better appreciate all that we are and can be.

On that note, a very short concluding story.

One of the hundreds of issues with which I have wrestled as a Member of Council concerns a home owned by the government of Liberia on Lyncroft Road.

Over a period of years, the house fell into progressively greater disrepair until it was abandoned entirely and badly overgrown. Neighbors complained, and rightly so. And we responded, enlisting the aid of our Congresswoman and of the State Department to insist upon proper maintenance. I am glad and proud that we did, because when the quality of life in a neighborhood is threatened, we have an obligation to respond.

But I will confess that the episode led to a few moments of dark humor. Imagine the conversation between the American Ambassador to the UN and his Liberian counterpart. “Mr. Ambassador,” the American might have said, “on behalf of the United States, I insist that Liberia conduct free and fair democratic elections, that you end the practice of exporting instability to the West African region, that you establish the rule of law in place of mob violence, and, above all, please, mow the lawn at 20 Lyncroft Road.”

Our problems are real. They do demand action, as forceful and thorough as our abilities permit. But they are no match for our blessings. 

A layered heritage of faith and experience, our links to the land and sea, our boundless capacity for reinvention and renewal, our miraculous human composition.

Ours to cherish, ours to protect, and ours to enhance. Let us accept this charge with glad and full hearts.

For your friendship, for your partnership, and for the privilege of service, I thank you and wish you a joyous New Year.