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Mayor Erin Stewart’s Inauguration Speech

Honorable elected officials, family and distinguished guests from near and far, thank you for being here and welcome to the great city of New Britain!

Our city was built on a foundation of innovative ideas that came from creative entrepreneurs. People like Frederick T. Stanley, Philp Corbin, Leonard Bailey.

They say opportunity here in New Britain. They dreamed big, and they helped create opportunities for generations of New Britain families. Their vision helped develop New Britain into the city it is today. A place where hard work is valued. A place where resourcefulness is encouraged. A place where creativity is celebrated.

I was born and raised in New Britain. Some of my most cherished memories are from the time I spent right here at New Britain High School. The wonderful friendships I made here. The education I received here from amazing teachers. There are gifts which last a lifetime.

You see: I love my city. And I believe in New Britain’s future. I stand before you today, truly humbled by the honor New Britain voters have given me. An opportunity to build upon our city’s past accomplishments and an opportunity to move our city forward.

To more New Britain forward required a new style of leadership. That means that as mayor, it will not be about me. It will be about we, the people, coming together, putting politics aside and listening to each other.

New Britain’s future is about each of you and your choice. Your voice will be heard. You will have a seat at my table. You will all be involved in the conversation. Your input, your ideas, and your vision will not only be accepted – it will be welcomed and sought after.

One week ago, the voters of New Britain demanded a change in the way our city government does business. They voted for a new generation of leadership, and today I am humbled to say that the new generation has arrived.

We must recognize this fact: To move New Britain forward will require all of us pulling together. That means building relationships where there were none before.

That means strengthening relationships across political boundary lines. The principles that I bring with me into the mayor’s office are grounded in faith, family values and a fundamental belief that the people of New Britain are better steward of their money than the government.

The four points I campaigned on will act as my four goals for the next two years. Restoring fiscal sanity, rebuilding our infrastructure, giving our children schools to be proud of and making New Britain’s government work for New Britain again.

Restoring fiscal sanity means applying common sense to the city’s books. It means spending no more than we have and borrowing no more than we can afford to pay back. It will involve belt-tightening and tough choices for city departments. These are the decisions you elected me to make, and I will not stray from them.

Rebuilding our infrastructure means making sure that our roads and bridges are in proper condition and that our city’s assets and properties are running as efficiently and safely as possible.

Giving our children the school system they deserve is a fundamental obligation of government and failure is not an option. I pledge to continue to work in unison with Superintendent Cooper. As a product of our school system, and former member of the Board of Education, I am sensitive to the needs of our children. They are the future of this city.

Making New Britain’s government work for New Britain again. That means working together – as Democrats, Republicans and Independents – to get things done for the residents, because the people of New Britain deserve the very best we can give them.

That means creating mutual understanding that there are no “Democrat Ideas” or “Republican Ideas” – I don’t believe those labels move us forward as a city. In fact, those labels divide us.

What we should be promoting are not exclusively “Democrat Ideas” or “Republican Ideas” but rather “New Britain Ideas”. Because let’s face it, there’s no Republican or Democrat way to strengthen a city. If there are good ideas that make our city better and help taxpayers, I want to hear them and explore them.

To more New Britain forward also means reaching out to those who may have become disillusioned with politics and government. So many voters I spoke with over the past several months have become totally turned off by the politics as usual the see in Washington. Many voters said they had become frustrated that they did not intend to vote.

To those men and women who feel that way, I say this. “Today is a new day for New Britain. Today we are starting fresh. Your voices matter and you will be listened to.”

To move New Britain forward will require not just words, but actions to back up those words.

Among those actions will be to throw open the doors of City Hall. I am proud to inform you that we are beginning a new era of openness.

Every day, we will ensure that New Britain is a government OF the people. Every day, we will strive to make New Britain the most transparent government in the state.

We will restore the Mayor’s office hours so that taxpayers can get their problems heard and acted upon.

We will pass policies which send direct and clear message to entrepreneurs and businesses large, medium and small. That message is, “New Britain is open for business.”

If there are barriers that are preventing small businesses from creating jobs, I want to hear from you so that I can set about to eliminate and minimize those barriers.

Ideas and industry built this city and made it great. We need to make New Britain a place where job creators want to come. Because New Britain is the place to be.

We need to make New Britain a place where city government is a strong, flexible and responsive partner in that job creating effort.

I have talked about bringing in a “New Generation of Leadership” to New Britain. When I say that phrase, I am referring to a change in attitude which will make this city stronger and stronger.

A “New Generation of Leadership” boils down to this: I view you, the residents of this city, as my customers. I work for you. Each of you. You, the people of New Britain, are my special interest. And I will bring that basic approach and mindset to work everyday to solve problems and to confront our challenges head on.

We will do it through inclusiveness. We will do it through mutual respect. We will do it by listening to one another. We will do it because we love New Britain and care deeply about our city’s future. We will do it because we want to leave our city stronger so that our children and grandchildren can continue to live, work and raise their families here.

Twenty years ago, a newly elected mayor described herself in this way: “I know the importance of investing your feeling in the human side of things.”

That woman was compassionate. That woman was caring. And that woman was someone who made history here in New Britain. And than woman is Linda Blogoslawski, our city’s first female mayor.

Linda understood New Britain’s biggest strength. And New Britain’s biggest strength is the same today as it was 20 years ago when Linda was mayor. New Britain’s biggest strength is the same today as it was more than a century ago when the Stanleys and the Corbins and the Norths laid the foundation of our city’s success.

Ladies and gentlemen: New Britain’s biggest strength is its people. And I intend to work with all of the people of New Britain to make our city even stronger going forward.

I want to thank the many esteemed public officials for being here today. Your presence means so much to me.

I’d also like to thank Mayor Tim O’Brien for the many years of dedicated service he has given our city – from his time on the City Council to his time as State Representative and to his time as mayor. Thank you, Tim.

I also want to thank the many volunteers who helped me on my campaign. Many of you had never taken an active role in politics or elections before, but you did this time.

You believed, as I do, that it’s time for a New Generation of Leadership. So you stopped complaining and you got actively involved. You went with me to neighborhoods across our city, knocking on doors, talking with taxpayers, stressing the need for positive change.

Because of you and your willingness to take that step and get involved, you set off a spark in this city. Others followed your example. People of all ages and backgrounds. They too, stopped complaining and started working for change.

The momentum build and build. And that’s a big reason why I am standing before you all today.

I can promise you that no one will work harder for you on a daily basis than I will. In today’s spirit of bipartisanship, permit me to paraphrase Robert Kennedy when I say, “I see what New Britain can and will be, and say ‘why not?’”

Finally, I have saved my most special “thank you” for last. I want to thank my family. For all they have done for me, and for all they continue to do for me. Those family members living and deceased, who have blessed me with their guidance.

I thank you for the strength you have given me. Without your support and encouragement, in good times and in difficult times, I know I would not be standing here today.

I’d like to take a moment to recognize some very important people to me who are not here today, my grandfathers, Frank Badolato, William Walker Stewart. And our brother Bennett C. Cheney.

The Stewart family is New Britain, through and through. We love this city with all our hearts. I cannot thank you enough. I love you all so very much.

But I have to especially thank my parents. First, my father. Watching you inspired me to be who I am today. Unfortunately, I inherited your emotional gene so I need to keep this one brief. You led this city with such compassion, I can only hope to be half the leader that you have been.

And mom, you are one brave woman. You’re the only woman I know who has a husband and a daughter that are Mayors and the patience to deal with both of us.

I’ll close by simply saying “Thank You” to the people of New Britain. You have placed your trust in me, and I value that trust. I am honored – deeply honored – to be your mayor.

And to my Spanish-speaking friends, let me just say to them: “A la gente de la cuidad de New Britain: Yo trabajo para ti. Te escucho. Esta es nuestra cuidad. Me siento orgulloso de ser su alcalde.:

New Britain: This is our opportunity!

Today we break barriers. Today is day one.

It’s a new day for New Britain!

May God bless you all and may God bless the City of New Britain!

 
 

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