I had the honor of attending the inauguration program for the newly elected leaders for the city of Phoenix. Mayor Elect Greg Staton, Vice Mayor Thelda Williams, and Councilmen Nowakowski, Valenzuela and Gates took their oaths of office at a ceremony held at the Orpheum Theater today.
The shebang began with an outdoor drumming circle and the talented dancers from Fiesta Mexicana on the Orpheum stage. Kathleen Mascarenas acted as MC and invited outgoing Mayor Phil Gordon to complete his last act as mayor by calling the meeting to order. He was followed by a truly inspired invocation delivered by Pastor Raul Ochoa in a manner only a man who has lived on the planet for a long time can… thoughtfully and with contemplative purpose.
The ceremony continued with the posting of the colors (flags) by the combined honor guards of the Phoenix Police, Fire and Explorer units. I found their precision and passion inspiring. Once the flags were in place the audience was in for a treat as Raven Woessner sang the national anthem with a fervency that was infectious.
Next up after the national anthem and pledge was an old face to Arizona, Governor Rose Mofford. Yes, she still has big hair as well as her trade mark optimism. She delivered Mayor Greg Stanton’s oath of office and it was clear that Stanton was honored to have her be the one. Standing with his wife Nichole, Stanton took the oath to a huge applause. It must have been an incredible ending to a long journey to become mayor of Phoenix. The Stanton clan all came out as Greg, Nicole, Trevor and Violet took in the moment.
Stanton performed his first act as Mayor of Phoenix by delivering the oath of office to the other newly elected souls. There was an especially loud ovation for Danny Valenzuela of district 5. Following the oaths, the new members had an opportunity to say a few words.
Thelda Williams was first up and I got the sense that she wanted to make sure she was perceived as a strong independently minded member of council. Next up was Bill Gates of district 3. To be honest, his talk was the only one I didn’t particularly like. Whereas most of the talks focused on what “We” can do together, Gates’ rhetoric was all about him with lots and lots of “I” and “Me” statements. I hope he gets a clue before too long that he works for the people and the job has little to do with him and everything to do with us.
Danny Valenzuela, a Glendale fireman, rocked the house with his talk. Combining Abe Lincoln, a few stories and well timed comedy, Valenzuela put a great foot forward as the new councilman for District 5. Michael Nowakowski was next up and gave thanks to his family. He has a really big family so the thanks took quite a while, yet the time was well spent as we (the audience) got to see why Michael is known as a rock solid guy; It has to do with familia y amour.
Last to take the microphone was the new Mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton. Those who read our site know I was a pretty big Stanton fan. Even if I was not a fan, I’d be proud of the talk he gave. It was clear that he has not been sitting on his haunches since winning the election. Stanton has been busy planning and getting ready to move forward quickly in 2012. Among the many things he mentioned are:
- A commitment to having the city buy from locally owned companies and vendors. Local First all the way.
- A partnership with Mayo Clinics to expand their Desert Ridge campus into a massive bio and medical tech hub.
- A partnership with mayors across Arizona to improve the quality and standards of our schools and education.
- A commitment to work to reduce homelessness and hunger for the citizen of Phoenix.
- Plus a few more things that didn’t make it to my notebook…
All in all, the event was a pleasure to attend. An additional treat was having the opportunity to sit next to former Mayor Skip Rimza. His insights during the event were very interesting. Since they were offered privately, they shall remain as such. I took a few pictures and some video during the event. Thanks to MovieMaker, they are now a YouTube Video and can be accessed below.
Best to you in this New Year and I wish great success to our new Mayor and Council members. May you create great magic this year… Gene Urban