FULL TEXT:  Pawtucket Mayor’s Inauguration Speech

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien was among those sworn in to office yesterday. Below is the full text of his inaugural address.

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Good Evening everyone and thank you for being here tonight to share in this historic occasion. Let me begin by thanking all of the voters for giving me their overwhelming support to lead our city over the next two years. I’m truly gratified and humbled.

May I first extend a warm Pawtucket welcome to our honored guests:

Father Galligan,

Father Paquette,

Senator Whitehouse,

Governor-elect Chafee,

Lieutenant Governor Roberts

They are, each in their own way, true public servants and warm friends who deserve our thanks for stepping up to the daily challenges they face and deal with. We are a better place for all their efforts.

Tonight I have many people to thank, more than it is possible to thank, people without whose support I could never have achieved this dream of standing before you now. Foremost among those is my wife, Laureen, and our children Alexa and Connor, who have shared all the ups and downs, all the surprises and rewards, that having a husband and father in public service can bring.

The next two years are going to bring us personal challenges and rewards. I know we will get through them because of the love and dedication we have for one another and our city.

To my mom, Pat, there are no words adequate to thank you for the moral and practical guidance you have always given me so wisely. And to my dad, Don, for all of the core beliefs that he helped instill in me as a youngster.

Here tonight are representatives of our police and fire departments, who every day shoulder the mission of making Pawtucket a safer place to live and work. Also with us are many of the city workers and teachers, who are known for their dedication and work ethic.

We also have our newly installed public officials, myself included, who you have entrusted with the great responsibility of leading our City to a better future. To the members of the City Council and School Committee, I ask you for your commitment and give you mine, that we will work together to make those tough but necessary decisions always in the best interest of our city.

What all of us have in common is a debt of gratitude -- a debt that should never be forgotten, not even for a moment -- to the hard working citizens of Pawtucket, without whose continued support none of these opportunities to serve would be possible.

We also have with us tonight several of our talented high school students who, by their examples --in the studies they apply themselves to, in the musical instruments they play--embody what our schools can accomplish. By their presence they remind us that only a community that prepares its children for a better future can hope to have one for itself.

It is about bridging to that future that I wish to say a few words tonight.

* After a long wait, work on the new I-95 Bridge running through Pawtucket has finally begun. When completed two years from now, it will not merely be a link from Point A to Point B but a new bridge of opportunity for Pawtucket’s economic future.

Its lighted Art Deco pillars will testify to Pawtucket’s appreciation of our historic past. And its concrete and steel will visibly define our quick access to the economic opportunities of our region’s two major metro centers.

Granted, the work on Bridge 550, as it’s called, may not look like much yet. In fact it started, in order to safely clear the way for new construction, with a rather confusing series of detours.

But the plans are drawn. The help of many able hands has been assembled. Though we may endure many bumps in the road along the way, we can be confident those hands will join together to make the project a success. Because that’s what happens when you have a clear goal -- and the cooperative will -- to see something through.

Too often that kind of cooperation and vision have been lacking in Pawtucket. It is truly time for a New Direction and a new spirit.

Ø A spirit that rejects blaming others in favor of joining hands to assure our children receive the best education we can afford to provide.

Ø A spirit that puts service to our customers, the public, ahead of the what’s-in-it-for-me attitudes of the past.

Ø A spirit that overcomes financial obstacles by finding in them the seeds of new economic opportunities, if only we dare to envision a brighter future and shoulder the hard work of making it happen.

Ø And a spirit of government that is committed to being transparent in its dealings, accessible to its constituents and thoroughly accountable for its actions.

That is the spirit of government my administration will provide: Working hard every day to deliver essential governmental services, employing the most qualified people, and using the best business practices to bring pride and financial responsibility back to our City.

There is much work ahead of us and, yes, some detours, whether foreseeable or not. We must begin immediately by unwinding our City’s tangled legacy of debt. We have already begun that work with top state officials, who now understand as well as we do that Rhode Island’s future fiscal health is closely tied to that of Pawtucket.

In the days and months to come, I will have many announcements to make, obstacles to overcome, tough decisions to weigh, and promises to keep. But let me start by keeping this promise: Later this month, I will begin a series of visits to neighborhoods throughout the City -- from Darlington where my family lives now, to my native Woodlawn and Fairlawn neighborhoods, and every community around and in between -- to listen closely to what you have to say about what is needed in Pawtucket and what we can do better.

And how we can cooperate to build lasting bridges between our neighborhoods and the government they elected to serve them, for our seniors and our youths, our minority communities and our faith communities, so that every voice is heard.

I will also be sitting down with our business community to best determine how we can support them and even help them grow despite these tough times, as well as how we can begin building the bridges needed to create new businesses.

In this way, the work of my administration will truly be your own, and the success of our City will be something that we all – the businessman and the artist, the health care worker and the factory worker, the teacher and the student -- can share alike. Together we can renew the spirit of our City and, like an arch over a mighty river, build a bridge to a better, brighter future for all of our families, as well as for the generations to come who will know just how well our work was done.

* I have been very fortunate to have so many friends, supporters and family members who worked hard over the last couple of years as we campaigned to set a new direction for Pawtucket. Campaigning is tough enough but confronting and solving our City’s many problems over the next two years will be almost unimaginably more challenging.

* But I can’t help but reflect back to the many moving campaign experiences I had, where people shared their troubling stories as well as their feelings of hope as we would chat on their doorstep. Their voices still echo with me. They remind me of the great responsibility I now have to act on their behalf. And those echoing voices will never allow me to forget who I have come here to represent, and what my core values of public service must always continue to be.

I have a brief story to tell you that relates to just how humbling it is to go from running for office to having the duties of holding one.

It was primary day and I woke up very early. As I was getting ready I could feel the anxiety start to build, and not just because it was Election Day. I realized this was not only the day the campaigning would end, but that, if elected, it would be the first day the responsibilities of governing would begin to rest on my shoulders.

I couldn’t help but wonder how I would be able to live up to all the expectations of our residents as they made their choice on who they wanted to lead our city.

On that morning I was standing outside of Curtis School introducing myself and shaking hands, when a husband and wife pulled up and got out of their car. The husband helped his wife, who wore a patch over her eye and walked with a cane, up to the door. I approached her to introduce myself.

She looked up at me and said, “Honey, I know who you are. I just came from having surgery on my eye and you are the only reason I’m here today.”

At that moment whatever doubts I may have had were somehow put to rest. I knew that I had her confidence and trust to do the right things on her behalf and that of others, and for the city itself.

It is that important work we put our heads, our hands -- and our hearts -- to now. Our success as an administration, and as a city, will be known not just by what we accomplish but how we accomplish it: By working together, we can bridge the steep challenges we face, renew our spirit, and rebuild our city with a vision firmly set on creating a better future in the months and years ahead.

I want to wish us all a happy, healthy and successful New Year…. Thank You & God Bless!


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