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Newton Mayor Setti Warren was sworn in for second  term today. Here’s the text of his inaugural address.

 Thank you. I am truly honored to be here with you this afternoon. My sister, her husband, my mom, step mom, step brother and mother and father in law are all here this morning, and I want to say thank you to them for their love and support over the years to help me get here.
And I’ d like to voice a special acknowledgement and word of thanks to Newton’s first lady Tassy Warren- and our two children Abigail and John- for being here today because without you I would be not be standing here.
The new year and inauguration offers an opportunity to stop and reflect, on where we have been, and where we are going. It also gives us a chance to define what it means to be a citizen of Newton and theresponsibility and opportunity that comes with it.
During my first inauguration, I remember looking over to the left of the chamber and seeing my Dad, Joe Warren. A man who was raised in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Harlem, New York that was recognized by CBS as one of the worst places to live because of the drugs, gangs and violence. My Dad and Mom moved to Newton to give my sisters and me a great education and a quality of life they never would have dreamed of growing up. My father passed away shortly after my inauguration, but he was able to see his son become the Mayor of one of the best places to live in America. And just to set the record straight- though he was proud of his New York roots, he loved the Red Sox, Patriots and in particular the Celtics and was a true Newtonian at heart. Most importantly, he understood what you all understand. The genius of Newton is that people of all walks of life move here, become an integral part of the community, and take a proactive role in making it a place where all people have the chance to realize their full potential.
Our city has consistently been ranked in the top tier of cities to raise a family, work, do business and find a high quality of life. We know the attraction is clear. Newton has a reputation for safe streets, strong education, thirteen distinct villages, and close proximity to Boston. But those of us who have lived here for any period of time know there is much more to our story.
Four years ago we were a community divided in the midst of financial crisis, mired in gridlock and indecision. Today, thanks to our citizens, elected officials, employees, city unions, business community, non profits and the work of this administration we are in a very different position. We have put in place a model for financial sustainability. We are implementing a first of its kind capital plan and have made critical investments in public safety and education. We have expanded economic development to improve the quality of life and expand our tax base and made Newton more attractive for businesses and retail to stay and come here. Our administration is committed to result based budgeting and will continue to work tirelessly to improve city services so that we are as efficient and effective as possible and achieve the outcomes that we all strive for. In the last four years Newton has become a statewide leader in environmental sustainability and we will continue that work in the years to come.
We are now making necessary investments in infrastructure, public safety and education, the bedrock of our community.
We will continue the work we have started over the last four years- together. In order for our community to meet its full potential and not slide backwards, we must work to build a model 21st century community that is sustainable for the next generation of citizens. It means we must make responsible decisions now to ensure Newton will be all it can be 5 , 10 , 20 and 30 years from now. And that means investing in people. It means adopting policies and an approach that is innovative and outcome based. It means thinking about how to continue to build a ladder of opportunity for people of every background. And it means that we have a responsibility as elected officials , civic leaders, clergy and citizens of Newton to elevate dialogue with one another, promote and assist our fellow citizens in need, educate, and lead. It means we must bring people together to make tough decisions to move our community forward. We can look to our extraordinary past to guide us into the future. Newton has a rich tradition of leadership and innovation that we can build on.
The Jackson Homestead – right down the street from us right here in Newton, is a beacon of freedom for our country. It was in that building in the 1800’s that William Jackson, Chair of Newton’s Board of Selectmen and his wife Mary Bennett – devout abolitionists – put their family and careers at risk by housing a stop on the Underground Railroad. At a time when Slavery was in full swing William Jackson- a Newtonian saw a future where Blacks did not live in bondage and were free. He used his position and platform to help change the course of history for Newton and the Nation.
In 1854, the ground breaking Allen school opened its doors for the first time in West Newton. The Allen family believed that education should be accessible and well rounded. Girls and boys, both black and white were educated in the same kindergarten classes- one of the first schools to do this in the Nation. Students came from Europe, Central and South America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Nassau, Hawaii, Japan, and all parts of the United States. Many graduates, both men and women went on to have careers in education, law, medicine, and government.
For over 135 years Myrtle Baptist church in Newton has been a corner stone of and ray of light in the cause of civil rights, human rights and breaking down cultural, religious and ethnic barriers in the region. Myrtle was founded by free slaves in 1874, the Reverend Martin Luther King preached in the pulpit and its congregation boasts the likes of Matt Jefferson- Newton’s first Black Alderman – and Board President. Matt Jefferson and great community leader Lilly Jefferson helped pave the way for our city’s first African American Mayor.
From 1972 to 1994 the city of Newton was led by a visionary leader whose influence, policies and approach continue to be used and reinvented today. Ted Mann was our City’s first Jewish Mayor. He was a republican who didn’t see the label, but saw the person and what they could do to make the city better. He infused innovation in city services, understood the importance of environmental sustainability by vastly expanding recycling before many cities did and had the vision and foresight to build Newton’s award winning landmark jewel – the Newton free library that is now named after him. Mayor Mann also was among a small delegation of Mayors to travel to Poland to meet with newly elected Mayors to expand democratic governance shortly after the fall of communist rule.
Landowners and selectman, educators, an institution, activists and a Mayor were essential in setting a path for civil rights, creating a deeper understanding between people, providing a quality education for all and building the ladder of opportunity.
The Newtonians who came before us understood we must invest in people- and that Newton could lead the nation in innovation, education and providing the chance for people of all backgrounds to be successful. They had a vision of what Newton should look like for future generations and they knew that actualizing that vision was a part of their responsibility as citizens.
And this, my friends, is the challenge we face today- we must set a path for Newton’s future generations. We must embrace the legacy of those who came before us by building a sustainable model city for this century. Over the coming years we will be building that city.
Academics, writers and opinion leaders locally and nationally such as EJ Dionne, Mal Salter, Stephanie Pollack, Ed Glasser and Barry Bluestone all point to the important role that American cities play in creating broader policy solutions to some of the most difficult issues of our time. We will continue our work to do just that right here in Newton.
We will continue to work with laser like focus to build long term financial sustainability. We will work to build a 21st century city hall that is smart, innovative, responsive, efficient and effective and meets the needs of every resident in every village of the city. We will continue to make Newton a leader in environmental sustainability, reduce our carbon foot print and reduce energy costs where we can. We will continue to make sure Newton is one of the safest places to live by continuing to build first class police and fire departments. We will use data and demographics to project and meet the needs of our residents in the next 20 to 30 years in the areas of housing, transportation, traffic patterns, accessibility, economic development, culture and the arts, recreation and city services. We will continue to ensure Newton has one of the best school systems in the Nation by attracting and retaining the best educators we can. And we will continue to rebuild our infrastructure and capital aggressively using a sustainable approach.
As we become an intelligent government that invests in building smarter capital and streets, we must also invest in building our people. We must ensure young people in our city have a chance to meet their full potential by reinventing avenues of opportunity. Last summer, the city created its first ever 21st century skills internship program. Newton high school students had the chance to learn what it takes to be successful in the new economy by participating in our private sector internship program. It was a life changing experience for kids who may not have otherwise had the chance to work in the job market of today.
As you all know- I’m a veteran of the Iraq war. Many vets who have returned from war going back to World War II do not know where or how to access the critical benefits that they deserve. A year ago, Newton launched a first of its kind regional one stop vets center to make it easy for veterans of all wars who have returned home to connect with services and benefits they need and deserve. We have an estimated 6,000 veterans in Newton. We also know that one third of the adult homeless population nationally is veterans. We’ve already connected many veterans and their families who have walked through our doors with well deserved benefits.
These are just a few examples of how a government in this century can be smart, innovative, evidence-based and offer a ladder of opportunity for all. Like many cities ours will need to meet the needs of those that are young, old and of different socioeconomic backgrounds. For the senior who is aging in place, to the single parent, to the family who recently moved to Newton, to the immigrant, the business owner, for the affluent and less affluent, for people of all races, religions and sexual orientation, from every village on the north side and the south side – We know that we must come together and break down the walls of division to move Newton forward.
As I leave this chamber today- I think about my two children- Abigail, who is 5 and John who is 2. I think about what kind of city they will be left to live in, work in and maybe even govern. Will they have the same opportunities that my parents afforded me here in our great city? Every one of you has a story to tell like me – and we have the chance to continue the great story of Newton if we work together, 13 villages, one community and build our city with a commitment to constructive conversation, understanding each others differences and service to our fellow citizens .
Senator Robert Kennedy, grandfather of our very own Congressman Joe Kennedy, said in a 1966 speech “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”
Let us do what generations of Newton citizens have done before us and build a future that meets Newton’s, our commonwealth’s and America’s full potential.
Thank you. God bless you, Newton and the United States of America.






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