Donna Holaday's inaugural speech
[Delivered at the Inauguration Ceremonies held January 4, 2010.]
Elected officials, residents, colleagues, friends, and my family, I stand here today humbled by the honor you have bestowed on me as I assume the role of the 68th Mayor of our great city. In this hall 159 years ago, our city government was formed and we have grown and prospered under the stewardship of many that have come before me. We must always honor and learn from our past, use lessons learned to achieve our present goals as we shape the future for those who will come after us. As the Honorable Mayor Michael Cashman stated in his inaugural address of 1922, "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." These words still ring true today.
We live in a magnificent city with a beautiful waterfront, Plum Island, state and local parks, historic homes and a city that is rich in culture, history and art. Our city has evolved into one of the greatest treasures in our State as a result of the leadership of our past mayors and the passion and commitment of concerned citizens.
Yet we have much work to still accomplish and it is time, it is time to put aside longstanding disputes over the waterfront and begin to implement the strong and prevailing voices of the public to create an open waterfront. It is time for all of those with an appointed and vested interested in the waterfront to work cooperatively to advance its current and future needs. We can no longer afford individual boards and commissions to work in opposition and establish turf wars that only prolong and prohibit positive work and innovation. "The best work of the city cannot be performed without goodwill and confidence toward one another." Our approach to the waterfront must be one that is comprehensive that starts with intensive and ongoing meetings that must begin immediately. You will be hearing more of this initiative in the next few weeks.
We must also recognize the fiscal challenges facing our country and our state and the impact these realities have on our city. It is time to create new and innovative ways to deliver services to our residents that must look at shared and regionalized services with our neighboring communities. We cannot continue to ask residents to carry the full burden of all of our needs by further tax increases and deepening our debt. New revenues are needed to help address the broad range of infrastructure needs of our city- streets, sidewalks, school buildings, paid parking in our lots is long overdue.....
We need a strong team of people to diligently monitor grant opportunities and develop proposals for both our schools and city. This was a recommendation of the Revenue Task Force and supported through a City Council Resolution that has yet to be implemented. We are missing out on federal, state and foundation opportunities that will greatly assist us during these difficult fiscal times particularly when federal stimulus dollars are still available.
We must also recognize the fragile status of our schools; we can not absorb further cuts in chapter 70 funding and we must embrace the new strategic plan developed by broad community representation that will guide the forward movement of our schools. We have much work to do in rebuilding a new school committee, hiring a new superintendent and supporting the excellence in our administrative and teaching personnel. Our children are our future and we must unite as a community to support their education. The Honorable Mayor Robert Burke in 1910 stated, "Our very highest duty is to see that our schools are of the best." One hundred years later that message is still true. Partnerships are key and we have seen the success of the Newburyport Education Business Coalition and Newburyport Education Foundation, ......we can do more.
We are a city that provides home to amazingly talented and generous people; many who volunteer hours of time to sit on boards and commissions to share their expertise. We can do more. ...I challenge each and every resident that cherishes our city to find a way to contribute, to find the opportunity to participate in a way that is meaningful to you; every hour that you contribute is important. Shortly you will be learning of the details of a public forum I will be hosting where every resident is invited to come and meet City department heads, elected officials and members of my transition team to exchange in active dialogue about finance, education, development, public safety, social services and public services. There will be opportunity for you to identify your areas of interest and expertise to become involved in current and new initiatives.
Communication is key to successful leadership. I pledge to keep an open and transparent process to reach all of you. This must also be upheld with all of our boards and commissions. Current and proactive information aids in supports collaboration, input and forward movement. I will also request members of the city council to hold monthly, regularly scheduled ward meetings for you to raise concerns and issues and exchange information.
We are making progress in many areas within the city because of the dedication and leadership of our city workers, and boards and commissions in partnership with community members — Clean and Sustainable Energy initiatives; the rehabilitation of our wastewater treatment facility; renewed focus on affordable housing; historic preservation and expansion of historic districts; a site selection and preliminary design for a senior center; and a review of our current governmental structure through the newly elected charter commission — to highlight a few.
Yet we have serious issues that require our continued diligence including the Plum Island erosion and beach nourishment and the closure of the Landfill. These issues will remain a high priority for my administration.
In 1838 our very first mayor, Caleb Cushing stated "The present time is but a point in space; ... whil[e] you speak of it, it is gone; if you stretch forth the hand to grasp it, it has already glided away into that past time, which belongs to history. It is one of the beneficial incidents of occasions like this, the anniversaries of great events in history of the nation, that we are naturally prompted to pause upon our steps, to arrest ... perpetual progression and change and to consider not only that which is but that which has been, and above all that which is to be."
Today we can take that moment to pause and consider all of what Newburyport means; to celebrate our history and commit to working together to shape our work future. That future begins with my promise to you now that I will work my hardest to achieve consensus and bring our vision of Newburyport forward; to build ongoing communication and citizen involvement; and to ensure our continued financial stability.
Senator Edward Kennedy stated: "We will not live out the future but we can prepare a place where our work and care will live on." This we do know and with your help, ideas and support we can continue to guide our future and the future we will leave for our children.
(This article replicated online with permission of the Newburyport Daily News, an Eagle Tribune Newspaper.)