Oath of Office - Speech
It has been nearly two months since the election so you would think that would be plenty of time to adjust to the idea that I actually am the Mayor of Auburn. But as much as I have known for several weeks, it didn’t really hit me until I took that oath. I am, of course, proud to have been chosen. At the same time I am humbled by the trust that people have put in me. I first want to thank those who helped me get here today. Don’t worry…. I am not going to introduce every Quill in the audience! But I would like to thank all members of the Quill and Salata families our friends and neighbors who put a lot of effort into the recent election. It was a long haul. Now, the real work begins!
I don’t know if any of you noticed as you entered this building… There is a plaque in the entryway that lists the members of the City Council when this building was constructed in 1938. Among the names is James D Quill, my grandfather. That serves to point out the long commitment and history my family shares with this City. And when you think about the previous Mayors of Auburn, you realize that most of the recent holders of the office have also had a long family history in this City. I am happy to welcome the former Mayors who are in attendance today—Mayors Carnicelli, Cosentino, DeAngeles and of course, my immediate predecessor Tim Lattimore. Each of them came to the job with happy memories of growing up in Auburn which has always been a great place to raise a family. I am sure they all share my wish that Auburn will continue to be that kind of place---a city where you want to raise a family.
But we also have to recognize that times have changed. Auburn faces the same challenges that many Upstate small cities are facing. The manufacturing base which sustained these cities has largely disappeared. The production jobs that provided steady predictable incomes for local workers have gone—out of the area and out of the country. We need to face that fact and compete with other cities and areas to develop new employment for our future families. Our goal has to be to attract new ventures and businesses and create a stable employment base that makes it possible for young families to settle here and plan on staying for the long haul.
I believe that Auburn has to aggressively sell itself to attract those kinds of jobs. The commitment that the Stardust Foundation has made to this community can be the impetus that kicks off new opportunities in Auburn. I look forward to working with Stardust to further their agenda. I am hopeful that the remarkable commitment of Stardust will attract the interest of others looking to invest their time and their funds in a City with a bright future. The emphasis on our historic areas, our connection to the performing arts, and the obvious natural beauty of the entire Finger Lakes region can also fuel a growing tourist business locally. It truly must be a regional effort. Auburn, as the Queen City of the Finger Lakes stands poised to gain from all that is done in co-operation with the surrounding areas and other governments to attract travelers to our region.
While campaigning door to door, I met many homeowners who expressed concern over the deterioration of some City neighborhoods. The recent study of Auburn’ housing conditions and future needs documented what we all realize from driving around town. Most of our residential housing was constructed 50 to 60 years ago. We have a high proportion of rental properties which makes for less settled, transient neighborhoods. The housing stock is not the only sign of age. Auburn’s population is aging as young families leave for job opportunities and older citizens remain and are joined by former residents coming back to the City in retirement. All of these are changed from the conditions we remember growing up in Auburn. There are other problems tied to the aging of our City. The infrastructure-- our streets, our water and sewer systems, our many pocket parks---all show signs of wear and will be expensive to maintain and improve. The challenge will be to meet these needs within the resources of our taxpayers.
These are just some of the many challenges we face. The new City Council will have five members who bring different talents and different views to the tasks ahead. We have Matt Smith and Bill Graney, both of whom have young families. Councilor Tom McNabb has many years of experience on the Council and has been an advocate for our seniors and others concerned about the growing tax burden. Gilda Brower and I are the newcomers. She has served in many capacities in community organizations and as a leader in the education of our young people. I have lived in Auburn my entire life, with some time out for military service. I know we are all firmly committed to doing what is best for this City and its taxpayers. We share that agenda and we will need to work together as an effective team to address the many needs of this City.
We all want to provide adequate services to our residents. We all want to attract new businesses. We all want to provide for the safety of our citizens and our visitors. We want to maintain and improve the infrastructure. We all want Auburn to grow and prosper. We all want to improve our neighborhoods. And we want to address these needs without creating a debt or a tax burden that is beyond the means of our taxpayers. It is a tall order. And it calls for a new spirit of co-operation from each of us. We will also need State and Federal resources to augment our local efforts. From the contacts I have already had with State officials and our local representatives I believe they will be willing partners as we try to meet our many needs.
I want to be a team builder. I believe that the new Council and the relatively new City Manager need to dedicate themselves to an open relationship with a frank exchange of ideas. We have a talented and dedicated staff of City employees. Their collective efforts and our openness to their ideas and innovations can give new energy to our city and its government. I believe in teamwork---no one is going to go it alone and accomplish as much as we can by working together. I also welcome the input of Auburnians with creative suggestions or complaints---though I would just as soon everyone would hold off on the complaints for a few days while I get used to this new job!
I am going to ask many of you for help in the weeks and months ahead. I know you share my belief that this City with its great history, spectacular scenic beauty and its creative hard working residents will have a prosperous future if we all work together.
Again, I thank you for this opportunity to serve as your Mayor.