`It's our turn to renew the promise of this great city'

January 19, 2007

Excerpts from the prepared text of Mayor Sheila Dixon's inaugural speech

As Baltimore enters our new season, I am humbled by the faith you have placed in me. I do not take lightly the oath I have sworn to uphold this afternoon. But know that I will face each coming day of this new season in our city with prayer, with optimism and with hope. The kind of hope that has seen this daughter of Baltimore come from humble beginnings to accept the honor of being the first woman to serve as the mayor of the greatest city in the world. ...

Those who came before us created a city where freedom was honored, tolerance was fostered, creativity was encouraged and diversity celebrated. They made a city where dreams really could come true - regardless of your race, your religion, your place of birth or your gender. Through the generations, Baltimoreans built a better world than the ones they left behind. And now - it's our turn.

It's our turn to renew the promise of this great city - and to leave it better than we found it. ... It is now time for us to come together - One People, One Baltimore. ...

I want to bring citizens from across the city together to start a process of change that will help us unite around proven ideas. It will not always be easy to find consensus. It's easier to be against something. It's easy to blame. It's easy to stop. The easiest thing in the world is to decide we are right and they are wrong. What's hard is to listen. What's hard is to admit that we need to come together. We must come together. We need to leave behind old ideas and long-held grudges. Today, that's exactly what I am asking you to do. ...

As mayor, I will balance the interests of growth and development with environmental and cultural concerns. There is room for everyone at the table and all are invited to be part of a conversation about this city's future. We have thousands of our fellow Baltimoreans out of work - and far too many of them are running out of hope. Meanwhile there are those who would seek to pit business leaders against the community, to pit planned growth and managed development against Baltimore's rich history, its green spaces and a diverse culture. ...

I believe that a clean city is a thriving city. I ask you today to join with me in a renewed effort to impress upon visitors and residents alike - we will not tolerate the continued trashing of our city, literally and figuratively. We want clean streets, clean alleys, clean parks and clean play grounds. A great city like Baltimore deserves no less. ...

This job is going to be one of the biggest challenges of my life. But I'm ready. I'm ready to make Baltimore safer, greener and cleaner. To carry on the progress of the recent past. To preserve the spirit of the city's history. To execute the comprehensive master plan. To build on academic achievements in our schools. And to operate all city agencies effectively and efficiently. ... .

And we need to make sure developers address the housing needs of working Baltimoreans - which is why I support new requirements to build work-force housing for teachers, nurses, firefighters, sanitation workers and the other hard-working people of our city.

We'll know that we are making progress when we have found common ground in the fight to improve our schools. I think this city is ready to put aside political battles and present a united front to protect our children. ...

So now, Baltimore, it's our turn. Our turn to show that we can continue to restore this city. Our turn to show that we can extend freedom, tolerance and respect to every Baltimorean. Our turn to show that we can put aside our differences. If we can do that - then our generation will have done our part to preserve and enhance this special place we call Baltimore. I think we're ready for the job. I know I'm ready to get to work. And I'm ready to work with everyone.

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