The long road to the October election led a new mayor, several new Memphis City Council members, and a new city court clerk to the stage of the Cannon Center Friday as they (and the existing council members) were formally sworn in to public office.
The house was packed as the program got underway with the formal presentation of the colors, a bluesy, ornamented performance of “The Star Bangled Banner,” an invocation from Bishop J. Terry Steib, a modern, jazzy version of “Amazing Grace” from the Brown Missionary Baptist Church, and more.
U.S Attorney for the Western Tennessee District Edward Stanton said the tough work for the elected officials lies ahead of the “pomp and circumstance” of the day’s event. He said public service can be tough and thankless but said that at its core “it is a calling.”
Stanton asked the new leaders to “ensure the shareholders of our cities, the taxpayers, that they receive their greatest return on investment” and to put away the rancor and divisiveness that exists in government.
Kay S. Robillio was sworn in as the city's court clerk and said returning to city government “thrills me form the tip of my toes to the top of my head.”
“Memphis is city of my birth, my education, my marriage, my children were born here and are still here…my grandchildren, here; I couldn’t be more rooted in the City of Good Abode,” Robillio said.
Council chairman Kemp Conrad spoke before Strickland's inaugural address. Conrad said "it's a new year and new day in Memphis."
"It’s a dramatic shift in our city’s leadership and it's a cause for celebration," Conrad said. "I don't say that as a criticism of those who served before, we achieved remarkable results. We should all be proud. There's so much hard work ahead. The people of Memphis need hope."
When Mayor Strickland was welcomed to podium, he was met with thunderous applause and a long, standing ovation. He first thanked the people of Memphis for placing faith in him to lead the city.
“This is truly the greatest honor of my life to serve as your mayor,” Strickland said.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland raises his hand as he takes his oath of office during a ceremony Friday at the Cannon Center.
He said Friday’s event marked the “biggest shake-up in Memphis leadership in a quarter century and we’re just getting started.”
Strickland noted that the city still has large problems ahead: debt, making large payments to the city’s pension fund, and a “tax base that is moving away.” But he said he’s ready to meet those challenges head on and move the city forward.
“Over the next four years I will do everything in my power to restore trust where it is broken and hope where it is lost,” Strickland said. “I’ll work every single day to make our streets safer, our city stronger, create jobs, and increase wages, improve roads and transportation.”
Strickland’s speech was nearly 20 minutes long and was interrupted by applause nearly 35 times.