Mayor Rivera's Inaugural Address
Thank you for being here and for braving the cold weather. Thank you to Council President Maldonado and my colleagues on the City Council, school committees and state officials.
I especially want to thank Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswomen Niki Tsongas who have shown us that political courage is not an oxymoron but that it is crucial for people in positions of power to throw their lot in with underdogs and help them win to insure political progress is made. Thank you both!
Thank you also to the members in the audience who held signs, made phone calls, raised and or gave money, knocked on doors and harassed thousands of voters, 7,628 to be exact! Thank you so much without you none of this would be a reality!
Today I stand before you as the mayor of the City of Lawrence. It is important at moments such as this that we remember how we got to this place in history. From the Native Americans that lived along our rivers to the first colonial settlers of the Merrimack Valley that came looking for religious freedom and settled the New England wilderness.
We must remember all immigrants that came to Lawrence through the centuries looking for economic opportunities. The Italians, Irish, and polish during the late part of 1800s and early part of 1900s, to the Puerto Rican, Dominican and Central Americans of the more recent decades. We have always been a community of immigrants a true gateway to the American dream.
We must always honor all their sacrifices and efforts by insuring that we continue to be that gateway. And as mayor it is my pledge to do just that. In this country’s history great progress and great expansion has only come at the hands of communities and groups of individuals that have taken bold and fearless actions. This is no different for Lawrence.
In Lawrence's history, someone once looked at the roaring Merrimack River and said let these waters be the fuel for the turbines of our factories. Then, armies of masons built complex after complex of mill brick factories to support the worlds garment and textile industry.
In controlling the river to harvest that energy they built the great stone dam.
If you look back, at one time in Lawrence's history we had the biggest dam in the world, the most factories in the world, and even to this day the second biggest clock tower face in the world, second only to big Ben.
So close your eyes……..and think about that. Can you image in today's Lawrence having anything that would be the biggest in the commonwealth? Biggest in New England?... never mind biggest or best in the world? can you?
Well the reality is that we must imagine just that.
Because then.... …during those times the future happened here in Lawrence
Now ……..today.....It is our task, mine as mayor, yours as elected officials, and fellow citizens. It is our jobs to make the future happen here in Lawrence once again.
But to do so we must be bold.
We will be bold making our city safer. We will begin by finding money where we can to train and deploy at least 10 new police officers in the next 6 months
We also pledge to prioritize new revenue to increasing the total number of police officers every year we are in office.
We will start funding some of this partially by decreasing the total number of superior officers to a number that better reflects and supports our total force.
We will patrol smarter by reinstituting the monthly COMSTAT meetings to insure that we are proactively and not reactively fighting crime. So criminal elements understand we will be smarter than them and they will be stopped. Everyone will know that Lawlessness in Lawrence will not be tolerated. Even if it means random road blocks to discourage out of town drug buyers and law breakers.
We will do better interacting with the community, ensuring that we have great relationships with all of our Neighborhood Associations, and community groups. We will reorganize our Internal Affairs division to make sure that our police officers actions are beyond reproach.
And yes we will higher the best Fire Chief and Chief of police that we can find. We will make this city safer by making our public safety departments more disciplined, better equipped and more effective. We must be bold in this effort chief amongst them all.
We will be bold in bringing Jobs and industry to our City. It is vital that we restructure and realign our Economic Development, Community Development, and our Planning, and Inspectional Services Departments.
To the outside world these departments represent the full weight of what we offer the business community and I will submit....after a community input process to the City Council for there consideration a bold and transformative proposal that makes our Development Departments into a high speed, low drag engine, with qualified credentialed, and experienced personnel, that says to businesses in Lawrence, in the region, the country and even the world that we Lawrence....want to be your partner in growing your business.
We will sell the virtues of Lawrence everyday by heralding our dynamic, young and trainable workforce, our location with access to every mode of transportation, and every major artery our access to inexpensive water and commercial space. People will say Lawrence is where things can and are happening.
We know that we can not be everything to everyone but we will be smart and bold as we go after industries that improve our community and better the economic and social lives of our neighbors.
And in doing so, we will once again join in the family of communities of the Merrimack Valley in many regional activities that will better the lot of the whole region.
We will ask, encourage and even push the owners of landmark properties in our city to invest and take risk in growing and bettering there properties so as to attract industry
Everything is on the table as we work to bring industry and jobs to Lawrence including and not limited to using our authority of land acquisition through eminent domain taking.
We must be bold because 14% of our community is with out a job and not working to fix that is unacceptable.
We will support the bold efforts in Education that are being taken by receiver Reilly and his capable staff in our school department.
I am certain that we will have several national models of education reform when they are through helping us fix our schools. It is however an imperative that we get a contract signed with our teachers. This is not insignificant to the progress we are making in our schools. We are not Wisconsin..... and the challenge is..... can we give our children a first rate education and still have a fair process that outlines how and under what guidelines teachers will do their work.
To be sure...Teachers have to raise their voices and the union must play its role, but I think that we can and we must come together.
I will play an active and engaged role as chair of the School Committee focused on the overall improvement of our kids’ education. For it means nothing to regain control of our schools and satisfy our political pride only at the detriment of the future of another generation of Lawrence youth.
We will be bold in the work of making Lawrence better. From those things that negatively impact quality of life in our neighborhoods, to those things that our small businesses need to support the hundreds of families that run them - we will work doggedly at making our city better. And in our work we will rebuild the pride of our City.
That we want be great is without question, but to be great, others must point to our accomplishments, to our work and label us great and in that way letting them all know that we are Lawrence.
A community that has and always will have a strong work ethic…… strong families And a strong accent….
I learned as a young boy-scout to do my best to do my duty and we will expect every city worker and every neighbor to take on the task of making Lawrence better by doing their best and doing their duty. I promise that none of this will be easy.
That many will say to us along the way "you can't do it" You won't do it,..... the odds against you are way to high...
Some will point out that the forces that we face in making Lawrence better are way too smart........ way too experienced and that no one has every beaten them before!"
Well take it from a small group of us that set out to become mayor more than a year ago. Hard work, that quiet, thoughtful, and undaunted kind can conquer any wilderness, any ocean migration, any roaring river, and even win a campaign to change a city. You just have to get to work. So let’s get to work