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Houston Mayor, Comptroller, and Council inaugurated at Wortham Center

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Inauguration Ceremony at Wortham Center Jan 2 2014
Inauguration Ceremony at Wortham Center Jan 2 2014
photos by Marc Pembroke
Color guard at Houston Inauguration Ceremony Wortham Theater
photo by Marc Pembroke

The elected officials of the City of Houston were sworn into office in a ceremony at the Wortham Theatre on Wednesday, Jan 2. For Mayor Annise Parker, Comptroller Ronald Green, and several members of Council, it was their third and final inauguration. Laws on term limits allow a maximum of 3 consecutive 2-year terms. Brenda Stardig of District A is returning to the Council after a 2-year hiatus. She defeated incumbent Helena Brown in a close election.

For the third time, Mistress of Ceremonies Lisa Foronda, a former anchor at KHOU, presided over the ceremony with upbeat enthusiasm and humor. The Inauguration Orchestra provided pre-event music, and the ceremony started with a joint Honor Guard composed of members of the Houston Fire Department and Houston Police Department. Children from the Star of Hope Mission lead in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Savannah Berry sang the National Anthem (see video clip).

All the artistic themes reflected Mayor Parker's vision and perspective. Both the invocation and Inaugural Prayer were lead by female clergy, the first by Pastor Juanita Ramus of St. John's United Methodist Church and the latter by Pastor Mia Wright of the Fountain of Praise. Gwendolyn Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate, read the inaugural poem, apparently a world premier, “Like the Lantra” (a plant able to flourish in adversity), a clear metaphor of Mayor Parker's perseverance and determination, including a rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” from the Sound of Music by HGO baritone Reginald Smith.

The formal part of the service was the swearing in ceremony. The Honorable Vanessa D. Gilmore, US District Judge for the Southern District of Texas administered the oath of office to Mayor Parker and Comptroller Green. Mayor Parker then administered the oath to the members of City Council.

Mayor Parker then delivered a 22-minute inaugural address, opening with “I love this City!” to a warm applause. She stated “ I believe this is the best job in America. To serve you is my greatest honor. I remain excited to go to work each and every day.” We are here today to affirm a contract with each other. One that we have formally sworn with an oath of honor.”

As Mayor, I am the public face of our city, I celebrate the triumphs and articulate the pain. I calm protests and invite action.

“Diversity by itself is merely chaos. Diversity where ideas meet and those seeds germinate can be a garden of plenty.

Departing somewhat from the advance copies, she highlighted 4 specific goals of her final term.

First, she stated that it is time to enact a comprehensive nonsexual-discrimination ordinance.

“To protect the vast economic engine that sustains us, it is time for all of us in this region to come together and take concrete steps to create storm protections for our coastal communities, whether the Centennial Gate or the Ike Dike.”

She reiterated the goal to Eliminate of chronic homelessness in Houston by 2016 a program already under way.

Referring to the Rebuild Houston initiative, which funds drainage infrastructure improvement projects with a separate drainage fee, “It is time that you see real progress in the street and drainage system in Houston.”