Governor Baker, Attorney General Healey, Secretary Ash, Representative Kelcourse, Representative Mirra, Mayor Gray, Honorable Former Mayors, Town Manager Flanagan, City Councilors, School Committee members, Superintendent Vicarro, residents, friends and my family, thank you for joining us today.
To the Newburyport voters, please accept a very special thank you for your continued support and confidence. It has been an honor to serve as your Mayor and I look forward to our continued work over this next term.
Newburyport has a long history of citizen activism and forward thinking. From its inception as our own community whose populace had distinct interests from those living in Newbury, the people of Newburyport focused on the future with a commitment to ensuring the greatest benefit for our citizens. Newburyport residents have made and continue to make sacrifices and give their time and resources to improve our city and to champion the ideals that we embrace.
From the days when we were still a colony, Newburyport Mariners and Merchants saw the need to care for widows and children whose fathers had been lost at sea, and they formed the Marine Society to provide for their needs.
Over a hundred years later, when faced with the fragile state of the union and a pending civil war, Newburyport citizens mustered one of the first troops to fight for our independence.
And then one hundred years later, when faced with the potential to erase our venerable history though the urban re-development of our downtown, committed citizens came forward to protect our heritage and demonstrated that through preservation we can continue to embrace our past and protect it for future generations.
Newburyport has always been a community of thinkers, who espouse benevolence, justice and opportunity for all of our citizens. From Theophilus Parsons whom was a framer of the constitution, to William Ashby, an ardent abolitionist who fought against slavery with William Lloyd Garrison, to Anna Jaques who saw the need to contribute to the community and established a hospital, to Edward Moseley and citizens who organized to buy the Tracy Mansion which has been our public library for over 150 years.
These are only a few of the pioneering and enlightened individuals who promoted the dignity and rights of men and women and contributed to the welfare of our city.
In this past year during a rigorous election season, some suggested that we were a divided city. As your mayor of the past eight years, and a long-term resident, I do not believe this is true and I did not find this divisiveness in talking with hundreds of residents throughout our city. We are one of the oldest communities in our country, and our culture is based on the ideals of the commonwealth. As the first Commonwealth Humanities Lecturer Professor Michael J. Sandel wrote, “A commonwealth is a place that cultivates citizens who care for the public good and who are good at deliberating about common purposes and ends.” We have always understood this, that no-one can make it on their own, and that we as a collective can both realize our individual goals and dreams, while contributing to our community to ensure that all of us have the opportunities we need to thrive and to succeed.
This was evident centuries ago, and is still true today. When called upon to support the education of our children, the citizens of Newburyport voted to fund our schools and stadium. When called upon to support our seniors, our citizens voted to build our first Senior/Community Center, a gold standard for senior centers. When called upon to support our local businesses and ensure the future accessibility of our city to visitors and residents alike, our citizens voted to support the construction of a parking facility. Further, we have finally reached consensus on the future of our central waterfront- an open space and park to be protected and enjoyed for generations to come.
These actions demonstrate what we have always been, a community of progressive thinkers and an engaged citizenry. Although it may take years, and in some cases decades, to reach decisions, our city has evolved and this is our community legacy.
Eight years ago, we gathered in this Hall and asked ourselves some important questions: after decades of deferred maintenance, how do we repair our school buildings and improve our schools? What can we do improve our parks, roads, sidewalks and public spaces? How do we improve our City’s financial standing and find new ways to raise revenue?
And since that day, I’m proud to say that our community has tackled these questions head on – and we’ve gotten results.
The legacy that our generation will leave is deep.
It includes significant investments in capital and infrastructure to benefit all residents. Over the course of these projects, we began asking broader questions. How do we continue to make Newburyport the jewel of the North Shore? How do we preserve and protect the things that make this wonderful City so wonderful – but still innovate and push forward?
What kind of community legacy will we leave?
In 1922, it was the Honorable Mayor Michael Cashman who said it best, “We want to keep Newburyport in the forefront; as a city with a soul; a city that has the vision of greater things to come; a city that is willing to work for those things which have to do with the health and happiness of all its people.”
Our City is a wonderful gift, and an immense responsibility – from our beautiful state parks and Plum Island – to our active and compassionate people. We were left this magnificent city, and we have a responsibility to leave it even better.
It is our collective responsibility to consider for the long term, what we need to do to ensure that our children and grandchildren can continue to be proud to call this place home?
Our work is not done- we face significant challenges including funding our school system, developing more affordable housing, preserving our historic structures, improving our infrastructure including roads and sidewalks, strengthening our economic base and tourism, preparing for the impacts of climate change and storm surge and supporting efforts to address the opioid crisis. We are not alone in tackling these important issues and can take ease in knowing we have a strong partnership with our State government as evidenced by the dignitaries joining us today- Governor Baker, Attorney General Healey and Secretary Ash.
Those who have taken oaths of office today continue an important tradition; this City demands public servants who rise to the challenges that we face – who challenge the status quo and continue to push forward.
In a time when the act of governing can feel self-defeating and bleak, we have an added responsibility to engage with the public, and with each other. Great government starts at the local level; we are the ones who engage the most directly with the people we serve. The new faces on the City Council and on the School Committee make me hopeful for our City’s future – and I look forward to working with all of you over the coming years.
As your mayor, I call upon you as residents of Newburyport to continue the work that you do to make a difference in our community. I encourage you to continue to be the activist citizens that are passionate about the causes that you feel should be a priority in our city. We are blessed to live in a community that is focused on the common good of our residents.
By being involved, attending city council meetings, participating on boards and supporting the causes that you care about, you, as a citizen of Newburyport are continuing a long legacy that you should feel proud of, and that we all take pride in when we see what we can accomplish by working together.
And in turn, I promise to take that same pledge, to do all that I can do to be a forward thinker that is focused on providing the maximum benefit to the majority of our residents through the choices and initiatives I promote as your mayor. I look forward to this next term, to working collaboratively with the city council, boards, and groups, to leave a positive impact on this city- our community legacy. Thank you for trusting me with this responsibility. It is the greatest honor to represent you as your mayor. Thank you