Dan Drew was inaugurated to his third term as mayor last Tuesday. He has graciously shared a copy of his inaugural address.
We’re brought together tonight by the will of the people of Middletown. It’s now our duty to carry forth the responsibilities in which they have vested us in the service of their interests. This has always been a solemn responsibility but tonight it carries a greater weight than in previous years as we embark on a four-year term of service to them.
As we look before us we see many opportunities. Ours is the generation that is building the first riverfront for the people of Middletown since the bustling port of the 18th Century. Soon we will break ground for a new FedEx facility. We’ll build on our relationship with the Board of Education, and we’ll work every day to make life more affordable for the people we represent.
But there’s a larger imperative here:
There have been and will be moments that confront us in which our perspective is clouded — not by a lack of willingness — but by an inability to see all that lays before us. Just as someone looking into the night sky cannot possibly understand the totality of the heavens, we too are limited by our own perspectives, by our own insights, and by our own experiences.
As we look out onto the horizon toward the next four years, we must ask ourselves: “Who are we and who are we going to be?” The answer to that question must not be just a laundry list of policy goals — regardless of how laudable those goals may be.
Instead we must ask ourselves who we are. We must ask ourselves: What kind of people do we want to be? What kind of community do we want to be? When we look back we see the impact of the bold vision of those who came before us.
When future generations look back on us, they should not see only a series of policy achievements, a few completed projects, or a comfortable preservation of the status quo. They should see something much more bold.
To do that, we must step back and see our time for what it is: a period in which society is changing and one in which we play a major role in hastening that change in the service of Middletown’s people.
We are and will be so much more than just the sum of our parts. Sometimes people tell me that we live in trying times. We must realize that what appears to be the tumult of life in the early 21st Century is not a storm to be weathered. Instead we must recognize the difficulties of our times as the birth cries of opportunity. The tumult signals not the degradation of society, but change within it.
If we accept that, we can, especially at this level, do our part to transform our community into something greater than we had ever dared imagine.
We won’t solve every problem. The renowned psychologist W. Warner Burke said that the “initiation of change is one thing and acceptance of the change is another.”
But we will be the trailblazers. We will set an example for others. We will slough off the antiquated ways of doing business. We will be the people who, because we are greater than the sum of our parts, will be unafraid to find our own way in the service of our people.