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Knoxville's First Female Mayor Takes Office

By Jeaneane Payne

great smoky mountains national park
Madeline Rogero delivers Inaugural Speech. Image courtesy of City of Knoxville

Knoxville's newest and first female mayor was sworn into office on Saturday, December 17, 2011. Madeline Rogero took the oath of office at the Jacob Building, located in the city's sixth district over which interim Mayor Brown will continue to represent as he leaves the Mayor's office.

The ceremony was attended by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, former mayors Randy Tyree and Victor Ashe and approximately 500 other members of the community.

The Knoxville Police Department provided the presentation of colors and Girl Scout Troop 20915 led the Pledge of Allegiance. Singing the National Anthem was Marcus L. Walker, Jr.

"To all the people who brought me over the finish line and to those worked so hard on this wonderful event, I thank you from the bottom of my heart," said Rogero.

During her inauguration speech, Roger said, "What makes a great city? As I take office, this question has been on my mind. It seems to me that a great city has events such as this -- where hundreds of people come together on a Saturday morning to celebrate the next chapter in our city's life. Where an honor guard and girl scouts and pastors and performers remind us of our blessings, our talents, and our freedoms.

What makes a great city? A great city recognizes and celebrates its milestones. We have seen the first Governor from Knoxville in a century, our first African American Mayor, and now the first female mayor in Knoxville and in any of Tennessee's four big cities. This has been a year of firsts for our great city. A great city works together for common purpose. Judge Rosson and City Council, I look forward to working together, each in our distinct roles, firm in the knowledge that we share a love for our city and a dedication to doing the best for all of our citizens.

What makes a great city? As I look at the smiling faces before me, I know that a great city also opens its arms and gathers into its midst the diversity of its people -- from white collar to blue collar; from labor to management; from every neighborhood north, south, east, west, and downtown; people of all races and colors, people of all abilities, gay and straight, people of all faiths, from the youngest to the oldest, from the richest to the poorest. We built our campaign on diversity and inclusiveness and that is how we will govern.

As I enter the Mayor's office, I am determined to stay focused on our core values and on the strategic priorities that will make our city stronger and sustainable. We must make choices today that meet our needs without jeopardizing the needs of our children, our grandchildren, and future generations.

We are entrusted with an opportunity and, indeed, an obligation to leave Knoxville a better place than we found it - a stronger, safer, healthier, and more equitable city.

And how do we do this? A great city is a complex and dynamic enterprise - a puzzle of people and places with needs and opportunities, competing interests and yet common bonds. So how do we get our arms around that?

We focus first on growing a vibrant local and regional economy where entrepreneurs succeed and businesses profit, resulting in good jobs and opportunities for our people.

We must be bold in charting our economic future, willing to think in new ways, embracing new technologies, and working in stronger partnerships among the private and public sectors to capitalize on our assets, the strengths of our outstanding institutions, and the talents of our workforce, always mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of our limited natural resources. We must be willing to forego the lure of short term gains for long term prosperity.

A great city is a place where it is easy to do business, where city staff provides excellent customer service, and where concerns of the business sector are heard and addressed.

A great city rebuilds from the heart of its downtown and out to its core neighborhoods, preserving its rich historic buildings, and reinvesting in its built infrastructure.

A great city has strong, safe neighborhoods where children can play outside; where families can walk and bike, and have access to parks and greenways and healthy, recreational opportunities. Great neighborhoods have active neighborhood organizations that work together to take control of their neighborhoods and prioritize their needs in order to work effectively with city hall.

What makes a great city? A great city celebrates and invests in the creative talents and genius of its arts and culture community. The arts are the heart and soul of a city, as well as an economic driver and tourism strategy. We are blessed with a vibrant arts and culture community and I look forward to working with them as Mayor."

Also sworn in during the ceremony were City Judge John R. Rosson, Jr. and City Councilmen George Wallace, Marshall Stair, Mark Campen, and Finbarr Saunders.

Published December 18, 2011

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