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Government and People
|Mayor Adrian Fenty
delivered the following inaugural address on January 3, 2007:
Congresswoman Norton, Chairman Gray, Mayors Barry, Kelly, Williams, present and former Members of the Council, Chief Justices Washington and King and other present and former Members of the Judicial Branch, Justice Ginsburg, Secretary Jackson; Governor-elect O’Malley, Senator Sarbanes, Congressman Davis, County-Executive Leggett, the Dean and members of the Diplomatic Corps; my Cabinet, wife Michelle, parents and family, reverend clergy, fellow citizens:
Today begins a new chapter in our City’s history. You join me in christening only the 5th Mayoral Administration in the District of Columbia since home rule. Together we celebrate the District’s special place in our own hearts, but also that the City of Washington has grown so far beyond the Federal City it was for nearly 200 years. Together, we pledge, steadfastly, that our goal is to become the 51st State. None of us can, or should, rest easy until we all have the opportunity to participate fully in our great democracy.
There is no real peer in the world for our City -- for we have, within our borders, everything that makes this Country great and that makes this world vibrant. Other cities and states envy over our economic, cultural, and religious diversity – and we are unified like never before. Washington has changed so much in such a relatively short time – but still, our City is just at the beginning – the beginning of an exciting journey that will take all of us to a bright future. Together, we can ensure continued transformation into an ever more vibrant, exciting, healthy and prominent city.
With the sunset of one administration, and the dawn of another, significant progress has given way to a new set of expectations. Washingtonians are cognizant of the problems of the past, inspired by recent momentum, but hungry for more improvement. That is why our Administration pledges not just to maintain pace, but to focus passionately on unrealized challenges.
For those around the world who recall the dark days of fiscal ruin from which we have risen, we promise that the fiscal resolve of the preceding executive and legislature will continue.
To those throughout this Country whose rear-view mirror of history reflects the mismanagement and unprofessionalism of yesteryear, we put before you one of the most experienced and accomplished group of managers (old and new) a first-term administration has ever started out with.
We couple this experience with private sector ideals and best practices, which will yield responsibility, accountability, transparency and efficiency. Never again will this be a government where performance is measured only during annual budget review. Instead, like the private sector, every day and week will be seen as an opportunity to check-in on the ability of government to fulfill promises to our taxpayers.
To our regional and business partners, we share your vision that our City will continue to be an economic engine, working collaboratively to improve the fortunes of all in the greater Washington Metropolitan Area. We couple this commitment, with one to our residents, that our pledge to build a world-class city begins at the doorsteps of your homes and the shops in your neighborhood.
We pledge, to those who know that our streets still can be even safer, to empower our law enforcers to walk the beat and do the type of community policing they envisioned when they took their oath. It is only when the smallest of crimes are taken seriously and enforced that we are most prepared for serious threats to our person – or to our City.
But our pledge to be the next great world class city is not based just on locking people up.
Our public safety vision is both short, and long, term focused. As we commit to aggressively enforce the law, we double our commitment to invest in the preventive strategies of recreation; workforce development and rehabilitation. Thoughtful solutions, rooted in rebuilding the family and the fabric of the community, will be the cornerstone of our City’s future, including making our streets safe.
We also say, to our neighbors who are frail, that this Administration joins the residents of this city in decrying miserable health statistics in HIV/AIDS, heart and lung disease, cancer and diabetes that are worse here than in many impoverished nations throughout the globe. If we are serious about being an example to the rest of the world, District of Columbia residents must have access to medicine and physicians and insurance, no matter where we live in the city, nor what our income.
We couple this pledge with one that we will work with our judicial branch colleagues to end oversight over agencies that serve our youth offenders, kids in our child-welfare system, our developmentally-disabled neighbors and those who need mental health services.
Our commitment is not just to comply for compliance sake, but to pledge that this government intends to be measured most for how much we do for the least. As a newly inaugurated President John F. Kennedy said in 1961, "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."
Finally, to those who question whether this city can ever boast a world-class school system, I join my former colleagues on the Council in saying that this Government will settle for nothing less.
That this will no longer be the jurisdiction that spends the most and gets the least.
That our young people, of all means, will never wonder again why their bathrooms, ceilings and playgrounds are unsafe or unsanitary.
That no parent in any of our 8 wards will ever feel that the only way to guarantee an excellent education in the Nation’s Capital is to take their child out of our public school system.
That our teachers and principals never again have to dip into their own modest salaries, or ask of the PTA, to pay for the basics of education.
And that our Superintendent have all of the freedom, power, responsibility and authority as the private industry or every other agency in the government, so that reform will be in deeds and action – rather than words and promises.
In this, as in all our endeavors, there will be resistance. We pledge to be deliberate – yes. We pledge, further, to be inclusive. We pledge also to be engaged and attentive. But we pledge, most affirmatively, to get results.
This, and other, challenges must be addressed if we are to realize our City’s destiny. But great cities, inspired by great citizens, turn challenges into opportunities. The other great cities of the world have evolved over thousands of years. Our history extends back barely 200. Let us leave here and begin to build more inclusive housing, educate more students, clean more parks and rivers, and save more lives. The work we begin here today will stand for generations, as people from all over the world come to the Nation’s Capital to find out the best ways to run a government and revitalize a city.
I leave here today to begin my Administration with a joyful heart and a vision we share of unlimited possibilities. I begin my Administration with the sure knowledge that we have, right here in the District of Columbia, the talent and abilities with which to solve our remaining problems and build our world-class city.
Together, we will unleash the energy and creativeness of our people to build that better life for all. We will be a model for the nation on how a great city can continue to grow and prosper. We will be a beacon to the world of how a city with a diverse population can harness that diversity to achieve greatness.
Today we say to the Nation and the world, it is our time to achieve greatness. By pledging to work together, nothing will stop us from achieving all of our hopes and all of our dreams.
Thank you, God Bless you and God Bless the District of Columbia.
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