MANCHESTER - Here's the text of Mayor Ted Gatsas' inaugural address, titled "Look Forward," delivered Tuesday morning:
"Good Morning. Coach, thank you for such a wonderful introduction. Your words are both powerful and full of meaning to me. You have always been someone I look to throughout my life for common sense wisdom. You say what you mean, unfiltered and nobody ever has to worry that you will be long-winded. You are the same person today that you were the day we met at Central High School. We've enjoyed many laughs and and celebrated many victories together and thank you for being here with me today.
"Mayor Wieczorek thank you for swearing me in today I am truly honored. I can remember, many years ago, when I decided to run for Aldermen and I looked to your leadership style and you manner of resolving problems as something to emulate. I really do try - there are some meetings where I succeed, and some meetings I do not.
"As Mayor you led this city through some very difficult times and it was through your leadership that we realized the revitalization of our Millyard and began the transformation of downtown and Elm Street through the construction of the Verizon Wireless Arena.
"Today we are enjoying the fruits of your leadership. Today the area in the city with the most development is south of the Verizon Wireless Arena and whoever would have thought that the day would come when we would need more parking in the Millyard.
"Mayor Wieczorek you have certainly given this city your all both in Concord as our Executive Councilor and here at City Hall as our Mayor. On behalf of all Queen City residents we are forever grateful and we thank you.
"I would also like to recognize some family, friends and distinguished guests in the audience. Let me begin with my wife Cassandra. I am very fortunate because she puts up with early mornings and late nights and never complains. She has stood by my side every step of the way since I became a public servant and she has always encouraged me. Thank you Cassandra.
"My mother Pauline is also here with me today. Ever since I was a young man playing any sport she has been my biggest cheerleader. Through all the wins, the losses the ups and downs her dedication only grows stronger.
"My brother Michael and Susan, who are by far my biggest critics, are here today. It has taken about sixty years of brotherhood to realize that your support and pearls of wisdom – are essential to my success – thank you for being there not just some of the time, but all of the time.
"And I am so proud that my niece Amanda and her husband Dan and their three children and my nephew Matthew and his wife Celia and their two children are here to support me today. As an Uncle I have watched you grow from quiet kids, kind adults to loving, dedicated and nothing short of amazing parents. You make me very proud.
"Also with us today is my mother-in-law Lorraine. Thank you for your continued support.
"I would also like to recognize the former Mayors that are here with us today. Mayor Guinta, Mayor Baines, Mayor Wieczorek and Mayor Dupuis. It's an honor to have each of your join us and reminds me how very blessed this community is to have a group of individuals that continues to dedicate themselves to the betterment of the Queen City. If I could ask you to stand as a group and be recognized.
"Governor Hassan, thank you for joining us today. On behalf of the newly sworn-in Board of Aldermen, Board of School Committee and myself it's an honor to have you participate in our celebration.
"Metropolitan Methodios and Bishop Libasci it's an honor to have you join us here in Manchester and give us your blessing.
"And now I would like to welcome all of our distinguished guests, fellow city officials, former city officials, former colleagues, friends, family and Queen City residents to today's inauguration.
"To the newly sworn in members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Board of School Committee, this is a day of celebration, I extend to each of you a sincere congratulations. You have worked very hard to be here and I look forward to the work we will do together on behalf of all Queen City residents.
"Thank you to everyone that has worked to make today possible. From Matt Normand and his team in the City Clerks office, to everyone here at the Palace Theatre, Scott Spradling for acting as our emcee and to my friend Bill Skouteris who has led this effort. Thank you.
"I would ask that the following groups and individuals to stand as you are called and remain standing. The Memorial High School Jazz Band, the West High School ROTC Color Guard, Danny McMillan, Jondany Cruz, Hannah Delharty, Austin Eaton, Alexline Gbaley, Alexis Gregory and Eliana Emanus. Thank you for being here today and celebrating with us.
"These students are our future and as Mayor of this great city I am extremely proud and I am honored to stand amongst them and I know that someday one of them will be where I am standing ready to lead our city. Thank you.
"Since I first stood before you four years ago we have collectively realized many achievements together. Despite the economic downturn this state and country have realized Manchester has continued to find ways to invest in our future. We have done this by placing our partisan differences aside and working together to find common ground. Today services in Manchester continue to be second to none. We continue to offer new opportunities to city students and economic development is widespread across the city.
"Today, I ask that you remind yourself about what's possible when we are able to work together and leave here today looking forward with optimism and possibility towards our future.
"Today, I stand before you and I ask those of you in this audience, the residents of the Queen City, those that work throughout city government and everyone beside me who is elected to govern at City Hall to look forward.
"Let's begin with the solution, find a way to reach it and refuse to settle for anything less. When it comes to the future of the beloved Queen City I think we can call agree that when we look forward:
"We see safe streets and our loved ones being protected;
"We see the best schools for our children;
"We see city students being offered every educational opportunity to succeed;
"We see city residents continuing to receive the quality city services they expect and deserve;
"We see the Queen City continuing to retain and attract business so we can maintain our vibrant economic base.
"When we look forward, with these goals in mind, the solution is quite obvious - we must commit to Manchester's future and invest in it. I learned in business that if you can prove the value then decisions and buy-ins will follow.
"Like all Queen City residents I am concerned when it comes to crime in our city. I am frustrated that crimes like burglary and robbery continue despite the Manchester Police Department's high conviction rate and successful prosecution of these cases.
"As your Mayor I am not just willing to just accept this frustration and make the assumption that this is the way life is going to be and move on. Keeping our city safe is paramount to moving our city forward. When I look forward I see the solution including more officers in our neighborhoods, dedicated downtown foot patrols and strengthened community watch groups.
"At the first meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday, January 21st, I have asked Police Chief David Mara and Assistant Chief Nick Willard to present a plan to the Board and all Queen City residents to stop the trend once and for all. I have asked that this plan include options, benchmarks and expected outcomes based on investment.
"There are so many of us on this stage, and in this audience, that are products of the Manchester School District. I am proud to be a part of this distinguished group. As Mayor I visit our city schools regularly and I am pleased with the progress that we are making for our city students. Our principals, teachers and administrators go above and beyond everyday for our city students, but we need to do more.
"When I look forward, I want for all of our students to be reading at a third grade level by the time they complete the third grade. Reading is the key building block for all success in life. It is the solution for all the next steps and if we commit to this investment at the elementary level I am confident that we will see students aptitude increase and test scores rise.
"Currently in three of our fourteen elementary schools there is a program called Reading Plus provided by the Granite United Way. Already we have seen outstanding results with this program. In 18 weeks students enrolled in reading plus jump two grade levels.
"Our new Superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston is in the audience today along with her administrative team and in the coming weeks she will present to the Board of School Committee the positive impact Reading Plus is having on our students. She will provide hard data to the Board of School Committee regarding the value of the program and the benefits of its expansion. I know all of our school principals along with the Granite United Way will partner on this initiative and provide us with the road map to guide our students and parents so we can realize this success.
"I would be remiss if I did not also take this opportunity to discuss the STEAM Ahead program. We are all aware that more graduates with skill and knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will drive economic development. With the leadership of Mayor Baines STEAM Ahead addresses these same concerns but also includes the study of the arts, which is imperative for our students to think creatively, critically, and collaboratively.
"The STEAM Ahead program, was approved by the Manchester School Board, it will begin as a pilot program at West High School in the fall of 2014 and will enable students to earn a minimum of one year of college credits, that's 30 credits, by the time they graduate high school at no cost to the students or their parents.
"This program will not only allow students to earn college credit but it will also provide them with internship opportunities with local companies and organizations, like Dyn, SilverTech, AutoFair, the Palace Theatre and the Currier Museum of Art.
"Along with the students our teachers will be provided with a wide variety of professional development opportunities. As teachers they are the primary engagers of students and STEAM education, it is critical to provide them with research on how students learn with emerging technologies and strategies to support more students in the STEAM fields.
"This is what makes STEAM Ahead so special, a true collaboration of our community.
"It is almost unimaginable to think that so many players would come to the table, put their self-interest aside, and create a program that will change the lives of students within Manchester. Even though STEAM Ahead is still in the planning stage, it seems it is already teaching us some valuable lessons. Mayor Baines please Continue the hard work.
"While safety and education in our city are undoubtedly the most import two issues we face in this city we can not make these investments at the expense of other city services and other city departments. Residents in this city expect and deserve topnotch services from their government and we must continue to offer that value.
"For the past four years the smaller departments in this city such as the city clerk, the tax collector, the finance department, planning and building and the assessors office, just to name a few, have been asked to do more with less - they have done so willingly and without complaint.
"City departments have streamlined services and I am pleased that departments across the board, in the city of Manchester are doing more with less. However, we are at a crossroads and we are nearly at the tipping point.
"As I look forward I see us continuing to provide these services and finding new sources of revenue outside the traditional tax base to supplement them. Over the course of the next ten weeks, and well before I present a budget, we will hear from various department heads about new revenue opportunities within the city so we can continue to improve city services and most importantly include taxpayers in the conversation.
"In every corner of our city there's economic development happening:
"at the Airport Wiggins Airways is building a new hangar;
"on the west side Job Corps will open in the next 18 months and;
"on South Elm Street River's Edge continues to develop.
"Here in the Queen City we are also fortunate to have access to two great assets - McIntyre Ski Area and the Derryfield Country Club. There is no community in the State of New Hampshire or our region that can boast these resources to their residents. I make a point to mention this because these resources are essential to the economic development of our city.
"When I look forward I see the solution to maintaining our economic edge by bringing technology resources to our city residents so we can highlight our assets and provide resources including real estate listings, activity listings for places like the Palace Theatre and city information like, "will my trash be picked up today" to city residents.
"For four years we have talked about an app for the city and in 2014 we, with the help of others, and with the lead of our Economic Development Director will develop an app for the Queen City. Our app will be a "must-have" for city residents, families outside our city, visitors and business professionals. In 2014 it's time that economic development in this city not only be proactive, but interactive for everyone.
"When we look forward, and we start with the solution our path will be clear. For many of us, myself included, there will be uneasy moments where we will want to fall back to the standard of today, but my sincere hope is that we will leave here today looking forward and agree to raise our standards of both professionalism and performance.
"We can do this through respect of each others opinion, providing and sharing information without false motivation, by thinking of the city as a whole and not as a singular ward and by rising above argument and contention for the sole purpose of looking forward to the solution and reaching it.
"My friends and colleagues I remain committed to the future of our Queen City and I pledge to you today that I will look forward so the Manchester of tomorrow is better than the Manchester we know today.
"Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the City of Manchester."