The atmosphere at the swearing in event was hopeful, optimistic and rushed. The new mayor of Seattle Mike McGinn was sworn in today for the first day of his term at the City Hall on Fourth and James at 2:00 p.m. right on time. The general feeling that the newly elected officials were: renewal, cooperation, collaboration, and sustainability.
Mayor McGinn spoke in front of a crowd of over one hundred and fifty and a additional overflow room of seventy or so citizens after his swearing in ceremony. He spoke of his campaign to be elected hearkening back to his promises he made during the grueling fight with Mallahan and promised to put his progressive values to work right away. Mayor McGinn announced that he had ready to sign a series of executive orders that were mainly economic in nature. One order was a wage freeze for senior level city employees and another executive order was to review all consulting contacts the city has in order to trim the fat from the budget.
The mayor talked about how he wants his administration to be open and transparent. He also spoke about the need for citizens, which he referred to over a dozen times in his ten minute speech, to be more involved in civic life. Town halls and citizen actions are to be a center point in how he collects information and gets ideas.
"The citizens of Seattle believe in this city." Mayor McGinn said as he wrapped up his speech. He then rounded out with a list of our common beliefs such as: opportunity, fair treatment, economic security, innovation and solutions to be an example city to others. He also spoke about making his "Progressive Agenda" come to fruition.
The other swear ins were the new City Attorney Mr. Peter Holmes and City Council members. Peter Holmes was sworn in immediately after the Mayor left the stage and the first words out of his mouth was a quote from Mark Twain. "If you carry a cat by its tail, you will learn more than any other way." He compared the campaign to a wrangling of different cats and the struggle to remain focused and forward thinking. Mr. Holmes went on to talk about his main objective as city attorney was to keep Seattle in the forefront in a nation of law.
Mr. Holmes took a strong stance against simply locking up those who commit crimes. He stated that the United States puts more of its citizens in jail or prison than any other country in the world. He then said that "Seattle will not be in the jail building business." to scattered applause. He then pointed out that civil liberties and public safety are not mutually exclusive themes and he pledged to do his best to protect civil liberties and work in partnership with law enforcement and citizens to uphold public safety.
The council members who were sworn in today at City Hall were: Richard Conlin, Nick Licata, Sally Bagshaw and Mike O'Brien. All the new council members spoke after their swearing in session for a few minutes highlighting their main objectives with the exception of Mr. O'Brien who spoke only thanks to his supporters, family and constituents.
Mr. Conlin spoke mostly of renewal and neighborhoods working together. He also emphasized transportation as a means to connect neighborhoods more efficiently, such as light rail and bicycle paths.
Mr. Licata was sworn in by his stepson who needed assistance up to the podium as a person with physical disabilities. Mr. Licata thanked his stepson and supporters while wiping away tears after he was sworn in. He went on to speak about the power of commissions and participatory democracy.
Mrs. Bagshaw gave a truncated version of her acceptance speech with five priorities: creating a job growing economy, housing for all economic levels, transportation reform with more focus on bicycle boulevards and pedestrian pathways, strengthening the public school system, and neighborhood character protection in regards to population growth.
After the ceremony there was a brief session of the city council with the voting for the president going unanimously to Council member Conlin. He was the only person nominated and before the process even began one of the members jokingly said into the microphone, "The fix is in."
Now that the officials that were elected are officially in their positions it is time to see what they will do. We need to be involved and hold them accountable to us their constituents and we must be ever vigilant and grateful for this new chance to make this city better.
What are the priorities for Seattle and the surrounding areas for 2010? What can we accomplish and how are the ways we can accomplish them?