Keith Gaskin pledged to pursue responsibility and embrace change after being sworn in as mayor of Columbus on Thursday in front of a large crowd at the downtown Trotter Convention Center.
“It’s easy to agree on the big picture,” he said. “We want our public schools to thrive. We need to make sure our budget is healthy. We need clear, consistent and accessible communication to ensure our government is accountable to citizens. The way we do these things is where it gets difficult, ”he added later. “But with our knowledgeable city council members, your participation and commitment, it’s a job we can handle. The reality is that our quality of life in Columbus, and the quality of our city itself, will accurately reflect the quality of our collaboration. If we focus on making the right change our priority, that’s exactly what we’ll achieve.
Gaskin’s speech closed a ceremony that saw the swearing-in of city council, including new council members Rusty Greene from Ward 3 and Jacqueline DiCicco from Ward 6. Speakers at the event focused on unity. , Gaskin saying the future is full of promise when city council and citizens come together to effect change.
In his speech, Gaskin said he was not a politician, but someone who shared the vision of bringing people together to discover the city’s potential.
“When I see the enormous untapped potential of Columbus, I am excited,” he said. “There are a lot of great people doing great things, but for a city to truly prosper, everyone has to get involved together. And someone has to be prepared to take responsibility for bringing people together and keeping things on track. It’s a lot to take on. It puts you under the microscope when things are going well; even more when they are not.
Gaskin praised those who use their talents and skills to make a difference in the community, specifically naming Arlene Peek, a community counselor who works with people with mental illness and incarcerated people; Columbus Police Officer Rod Porter, who buys food and shoes for children in need; and small business owners Ryan and Katherine Munson, who were the primary organizers of creating the 3rd Saturday Art and Music Fair with the Columbus Arts Council to help showcase the work of local artists.
As the first mayor, Gaskin also presented the first-ever Ernest Brown “Good Change” award for making Columbus a better place to the award’s namesake, Ernest Brown, who many people refer to as the “Mayor of Northside”. For many years Brown was president of the Neighborhood Improvement Association and his efforts led to the opening of a police station at the Boys and Girls Club on 14th Avenue.
“Year after year, he has always given back to his community,” said Gaskin.
Gaskin said it is in the shadow of the examples given by Peek, Porter, the Munsons and Brown that he hopes to become mayor.
Gaskin concluded his speech by inviting people to help shape a vision for a better future.
“I am grateful for the trust and responsibility you have placed in me,” he said. “I invite you to share it with me so that we can shape our vision of the Columbus that we want for us and our children. God bless you, Columbus. Let’s have fun and get down to business.
Former Chancellery Judge Jim Davidson was sworn in at Gaskin, along with council members Ethel Stewart of Ward 1, Joseph Mickens of Ward 2, Greene, Pierre Beard Sr. of Ward 4, Stephen Jones of Ward 5 and DiCicco.
After the ceremony, DiCicco told The Dispatch that she was ready to serve the community alongside a council that takes a positive view for Columbus.
“Our goal is to move the city forward in any way we can,” she said. “We are building on a foundation that has been put in place. We have a positive vision for the city of Columbus. The whole thing is – it’s a new beginning. Good change is what Keith has built his platform on and that’s what we want – good change and progress for Columbus.
“I thought it was a big ceremony, a great way to start a new chapter in Columbus,” he said. “I can’t wait to have the opportunity to make a difference here and get to work.
The ceremony also featured the presentation of the colors by the Color Guard of Columbus Air Force Base, music from the Columbus High School varsity choir and band and a keynote address by the Reverend Rosalyn Nichols, whose speech also addressed the need for unity and the importance of ensuring that city resources are accessible to all.
“This is the role of your newly elected mayor,” she said. “He will be responsible for reminding this community to work to bring resources together … not to take everything for yourself, but to leave a part of it to someone else and to move it so that it can give it with dignity. by herself. This is what will build a better and better future for all citizens of Columbus. “