One by one, they put their hands on a Bible and promised to do the best they can for the city.
The 2012 members of the Fulton Common Council swore their oaths of office in a brief New Year’s Day ceremony, then got down to the first work of the new year.
The Council has had a radical makeover. Three of six members were replaced. Council members Daryl Hayden, Tom Kenyon and Kim Roy chose not to run for reelection. Alan Emrich, Carmella Cavallaro and Larry Macner won the elections to replace them.
Before they were sworn in, they got a brief pep talk from Mayor Ron Woodward.
The city’s declining finances, due to the loss of manufacturers such as Birds-Eye, declining state aid at a time of increasing state mandates, and the depressed economy, have forced the city to cut its spending and employment over the last few years.
At the same time, the city suffers from its status as the community with the highest combined tax rate in the state, at more than $50 per thousand of assessed value for city, county and school taxes combined.
In spite of all that, Woodward said there was reason for “cautious optimism”.
“We have a lot to be thankful for even though we have a lot of challenges,” Woodward said. (Video of the address is below.)
He urged the Council members not to be afraid of making decisions and not to be afraid of failure. “I can’t think of anything that will stall…the city more than indecision.”
Woodward also urged citizens to take a more positive attitude about the city.
“I have a lot of faith in the city of Fulton,” he said. “It’s easy to criticize and see the bad in your city but if everyone just once a week said something good or found something good to do, it would be a better place for us to live.
“Whether you donate your time to a a senior center, serve on one of the city’s committees or pick up trash in the park, be positive. We have an image and pretty much the way we people in Fulton present it is the way people will see it.”
Mayor Ron Woodward’s address to the Common Council:
A gallery of photos from the swearing-in ceremony: