The Inaugural: they’re all legal now!
By Edith Morgan
It was a truly classy event – worthy of the city that Mayor Joe Petty described: a gathering of Worcester residents, their elected officials, and perhaps a smattering of the curious wanting to see and be seen. The venue was the newly revived Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts.
The “performers” were the newly elected local officials who will preside over city affairs for the next two years, having been duly elected on November 3, 2015, and ready to take up their duties in 2016 and 2017.
The whole program was introduced by City Clerk David Rushford, who kept things moving along. Perched up in the front right balcony was the Burncoat High School String Quartet, who were unfortunately almost drowned out by the enthusiastic crowd, as the newly elected officials made their entrance and took their places on the stage.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, led by three U.S. Army veterans, and the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” by the Burncoat High School Select Chorus
Rabbi Aviva Fellman of Congregation Beth Israel then gave an invocation, emphasizing the idea that while God created so many species of plants, animals and other living things, Genesis tells us that He made only One HUMAN – so we are all descended from that single ancestor.
Then Rushford read off the results of the November 3rd election, and the Honorable Mark E. Noonan, first Justice of the Massachusetts District Court, administered the oath of office to all. The members of the School Committee then elected Brian O’Connell as their vice-chair (the Mayor is chair both the council and the School Committee), and Justice Noonan then swore in both Mr. O’Connell and Michael Gaffney, who is the vice chair of the Council by virtue of his second finish on the council.
Reverend Walter Riley of Immaculate Conception Parish then offered a prayer, and was followed by the Belmont A.M.E Zion Gospel Youth Choir, a wonderfully diverse (in age, from the tallest to the very youngest and shortest) group led by Violet Bragg.
After being sworn in as mayor, Joseph Petty delivered the inaugural address. It was a very positive summary of what projects had been accomplished in Worcester, our low crime rate, our completion of so many projects. He also outlined what he feels still needs to be done: unfinished projects; more after school activities in our schools, cooperation between city government and Worcester citizens (with a word of praise for City Manager Ed Augustus); and of particular interest to me, an emphasis on attention to our great “Blue waterways,” Bell Pond, Institute Park, others, as well as designing a shore-length walkway on our side of Lake Quinsigamond, where so many water sports are available, and more will be soon.
I do not have space here to detail every one of these proposals – but I was gratified that the natural beauties of our city will get so much attention.
The mayor delivered all his ideas in a calm, slow and even-toned manner, typical of what we who have followed his career have come to expect.
Reverend Milad Selim of Saint George’s Orthodox Cathedral delivered the closing prayer, and our new leadership filed out past us, accompanied by the Burncoat String Quartet.
It was in many ways a moving experience – even to an old “habitué” like me!