The new City Council must be a force of unity to propel Columbus forward, Dr. James A. Boyd of Zion Gate Missionary Baptist Church said Thursday, as the mayor and councilmen were sworn into office during a ceremony at the Trotter Convention Center.
In addition to hundreds of city residents, former and current elected officials, city department heads and city employees witnessed the oath of office, administered first by Circuit Judge Lee Howard to Mayor Robert Smith, who then swore the councilmen into office.
Noting he was “humbled by the support and trust placed” in him, Smith said honoring a pledge to “affirm that trust will be the heartbeat” of his administration.
“It will guide every action I take,” he promised. “I want you to know that I will continue to be a mayor who takes responsibility and leads by example.”
“The occasion that we celebrate here today is about much more than the oath of one man,” he said. “It”s about an oath we all must take and commit to. We”re here because we are committed to making Columbus a great city, to rise above our differences, to meet our collective challenges, to define our mutual dreams and to take stock of where we”ve been as a city and where we”re going.
“In short, we stand poised between the promise of vast possibility and, if we fail to act, a future of profound ambiguity,” he added.
Smith thanked the outgoing council members — Gene Coleman, Susan Mackay, Jay Jordan, who also served as vice mayor, and Jerry Kendall — for their service.
“Running for and holding elective office takes a special kind of person who is heavily involved in his or her community, driven to make a difference for all its people,” Smith said. “It can often be a thankless job, making decisions from time to time that seem to please no one.”
And he thanked the current councilmen — Ward 1 Councilman Gene A. Taylor, an incumbent, Ward 2 Councilman Joseph W. Mickens Sr., Ward 3 Councilman Charlie E. Box, Ward 4 Councilman Fred E. Stewart Jr., an incumbent, Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem, and Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin — for their “dedication” to the city.
“Thank you to each one for refusing to be back-seat drivers in the work of this city,” he said. “You have presented yourselves as public servants, who are team players committed to a better Columbus.”
“Every citizen in Columbus is an equal stakeholder in our city”s future,” Smith concluded. “We can”t succeed as a community if we do not provide everyone with the opportunity to participate in the civic life of the city and we can”t truly flourish if citizens in every neighborhood don”t feel fully invested in our economic success. We know that, united, we are stronger and, united, a great city can accomplish many things. Can you imagine the accomplishments that we can achieve together when we remove barriers, such as race, geography, language, age, religion and gender?”
“Each of you come as individuals,” Boyd told the councilmen and mayor. “You must abandon your individual dreams; you must abandon your individual visions. Columbus must be one. One ward does not make Columbus; each ward together makes Columbus.
“You must look beyond color,” he continued. “You must look as human beings created by God. Together we stand, divided we fall. Unfortunately, you are not blessed with time to criticize the past; you must pick up the torch and run as fast as you can. You must make Columbus the shining star she deserves to be. Your constituents trust you and they are anxiously awaiting you to represent them to the best of your ability. You have to lay aside selfish agendas.”
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