Monday night the new city council and Mayor Nancy McFarlane were sworn in by District Court Judge Jane Gray. The event was a humble celebration for a city approaching 400,000 residents, held in the convention center lobby, a formal but Spartan affair and a reflection of the fiscal caution that marks this era. Returning council members Mary Ann Baldwin, Thomas Crowder, Bonner Gaylord, John Odom, Russ Stephenson and Eugene Weeks were jovial as they welcomed new council member Randall Stanger in a quick group swearing in. McFarlane's oath was delivered individually, followed by a speech where she expressed gratitude to supporters and laid out a future vision. Spending much of the speech thanking and applauding Charles Meeker's leadership, that vision didn't sound too dissimilar to the general consensus for city politics over the last decade. A Richard Florida quote made the speech along with one from Architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen that began "When you look at a city, it's like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it." For the most part though, McFarlane painted a practical picture centered around ensuring city services and the issues her campaign focused on. McFarlane challenged the crowd to get involved in their community and the importance of that involvement in improving the city.
Any emotional impact for McFarlane's speech was lost in the cavernous convention center lobby. Acoustics aside the crowd enthusiastically sang along with the Watts Chapel Missionary Baptist Church Choir to America the Beautiful as McFarlane left the podium. As the new mayor looked for a seat, appropriately the former Mayor offered his and stood to the back of the room for the remainder of ceremony. Meeker sang along and following the end of the meeting was embraced by supporters and community members as he walked through the crowd.
As the weight of responsibilities on Meeker's shoulders lifted, Mayor McFarlane surrounded by supporters and news media as her new title set in. A young girl was one of the first to embrace her as the ceremony came to a close. Now for the hard work.