Five members of the Board of Aldermen take their oaths of office.
Frederick, Md (KM). There’s a new administration in the city of Frederick. During ceremonies in front of a large crowd at the Weinberg Center, Michael O’Connor was sworn into office as Mayor. He spent eight years as Alderman before defeating incumbent Mayor Randy McClement in last month’s general election.
“Let me begin by saying that I’m honored and humbled to accept this responsibility. And excited to begin working with this historically diverse Board of Aldermen in charting the next course for the city of Frederick,” O’Connor said in his inaugural speech.
The new Board of Aldermen are incumbents Kelly Russell, who was elected President Pro Tem, and Donna Kuzemchak. The newcomers are Roger Wilson, Derek Shackleford and Ben MacShane. Wilson and Shackleford are African-American.
O’Connor said he represents the entire city of Frederick, and hopes to reach out to more citizens. “We will embark on a new commitment to civic engagement, expanding the diversity of our workforce and boards and commissions, doing more to bring under represented communities in the process of government, developing opportunities to inspire young people,” he said.,
The new Mayor also spoke about the economy, putting together economic development strategies. He also said this means meeting the needs of the citizens who live paycheck-to-paycheck. “43% of families in the city of Frederick, about one-third of families in the county, are standing on the ledge, surviving, contributing in many ways to the strength of our community. But one small step away from having their lives unraveled,” O’Connor said.
The statistic he cited come from the ALICE report issued by the United Way. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.
Mayor O’Connor also said the city will be implementing the goals of the Sustainability Plan. “We must address natural resources: land, air and water quality. We must reduce our reliance on gas and oil as a city, while encouraging our residents and businesses to do the same,” he said. “And we must promote a healthy community which is active, and supports pedestrians, bicycles and motor vehicles equally and encourages a locally sources economy for goods, services and jobs.”
But he acknowledged the work done by the outgoing administration. “Some of our work plan is set. Major infrastructure projects like Monocacy Boulevard and upgrades to our waste water treatment plant move forward. A downtown hotel and conference center will remain a priority. Planning continues on a westside regional park as does developing a plan for a new police department headquarters. But we will need to be creative and innovative to move these forward,,” says O’Connor.
Also speaking at the inauguration was outgoing Mayor Randy McClement, who thanked his family for supporting him during his eight years as the city’s chief executive. “Without them, I would not have been able to do the work that I felt needed to be done. They made sacrifices to help me be the best mayor and the best person I could be,” he said.
When he was elected in 2009, McClement said the nation was facing a major economic downturn which made it challenging to craft a budget. In addition to that, the city was hit by a major blizzard in the winter of 2010. along with two earthquakes and a derichio. “But despite all of those hardships, and with the willingness and support of our great city staff, i was able to provide eight balanced budgets and did it without decreasing services and raising your overall taxes,” he said.
Finally, McClement wished Mayor O’Connor the best of luck. “To the citizens of this great city, thank you for allowing to serve as your Mayor for the last eight years. It was truly an honor and it was truly a privilege,” he said, to the applause of the audience.
On Friday, Mayor O’Connor holds his first media briefing on the priorities for his term as Mayor. It will be held at city hall at 11:00 AM. The briefing will broadcast on cable channel 99 and streamed over the city’s web page at www.cityhoffrederick.com.
By Kevin McManus