As we prepare to kick off year two of Return to Room 50, here’s a flashback to the very first day of the term of Mayor William J. Samaras, the 91st mayor of Lowell, Massachusetts.
The 2018-2019 Lowell City Council and School Committee were inaugurated on January 2nd, 2018.
Prior to the meeting, guests and dignitaries assembled in the Mayor’s Reception Room. In addition to the four who currently serve on the City Council several other former mayors were in attendance including (then) State Senator Eileen Donoghue (1998-2002), Bill Martin (2006-2008), and Patrick Murphy (2012-2014).
Patrick Murphy talks with outgoing Mayor Edward Kennedy
Returning Councilor Vesna Nuon, new Councilor Karen Cirillo, and former Assistant to Mayor Patrick Murphy, Jen Myers
James Ostis, Patrick Murphy, Vesna Nuon (Photo: Jen Myers)
Outgoing Mayor Edward Kennedy and his family
Mayor Samaras receives his boutonniere
The dignitaries then proceeded to the Council Chamber for the Inauguration ceremony.
Per custom, the City Clerk presides over the inaugural meeting.
City Clerk Michael Geary
After the Clerk explained the format of morning’s proceedings, Lowell High School’s chorus and ROTC Color Guard performed the national anthem.
The City Clerk read an official notice of election results to signify the nine city councilors that had been elected in the November election. The elected councilor’s names were then called in a roll call by the Assistant City Clerk before the official Oath of Offices was administered by The Honorable Stacey J. Fortes, 1st Justice of Lowell District Court.
Following the oath of office, the new council is invited to sign into the Clerk’s register.
The first order of business in any term is the election of Mayor. Under Plan E government, the mayor is one of nine city councilors elected to his or her post by a vote of the City Council as the first official business of the two year term.
William Samaras was officially chosen as the next mayor of Lowell through a vote of his colleagues by a 5-4 margin during his third term on the Lowell City Council. As the last name in alphabetical order, Mayor Samaras actually got to cast the deciding vote himself.
Following Justice Fortes’ administration of the Mayor’s Oath of Office, Mayor William Samaras made his inaugural address to the City.
Text from Mayor Samaras’s Remarks:
First, I want to thank my fellow councilors for their support in allowing me to be the mayor of the City of Lowell. Since coming on the city council, I have come to realize one thing. I am part of a team. And each of the members of the council is important to the well-being of the city. We are all here to represent our constituents. However, in a number of cases, we have a difference of opinion in how to reach our goals. But that difference of opinion and our willingness to work together gives us the strength to do what is best for the city.
I realize the position of mayor of the City of Lowell is in some ways in ceremonial, as we do have a city manager who is the chief executive for the city. But the role of Mayor is an integral position of civic leadership in the Plan E system in that he or she becomes the voice of the city council. Nobody embodied the importance of that role more than our outgoing mayor, Edward Kennedy. I think we can all agree, Mayor Kennedy’s leadership truly made a difference. If it weren’t for his efforts to ensure the people’s voices were heard on the future of Lowell High School, we would be in a very different position today. In November, those voices were heard loud and clear.
Now that the voters have given this city council guidance on the location, it is up to this city council to ensure that we build the best Lowell High School that we can. That is why I support Downtown Option 3.
The question of Lowell High School has always been more than just a political issue for me. For 19 years, Lowell High School was my passion and my life’s work. As the former headmaster of Lowell High School, I can only hope that my background is a benefit to the process and not a hindrance or a problem. I plan to approach the issue of Lowell High School as mayor as I did as headmaster for 19 years, with an emphasis on equity and opportunity, and always putting the students first.
That having been said, I realize that the issue of the high school question has been contentious and at times divisive. I feel that over the next two years we all must work together to bring this community back together.
There are also many other issues that this city council will have to deal with. We will continue working on the good work already achieved on public safety and economic development. As a city councilor for the past four years, I have seen that much of the most important work city councilors do is through the subcommittee process. With that experience in mind, as mayor, I propose the establishment of several new subcommittees to meet the evolving needs of our community.
One would be a subcommittee on senior citizen issues to ensure that some of our most vulnerable citizens have a voice in this administration. Likewise, we need to also establish a subcommittee to deal with issues related to nonprofit organizations. In order for Lowell to thrive we need ongoing constructive communication between the city and these important partners.
We have also already established an ad hoc subcommittee that is looking at Lowell’s election laws and processes. Government works best when it is reflective of the people it serves. As the mayor I am fully committed to seeing that vision realized.
Finally, I would like to end by talking about partnerships. Lowell is very fortunate to have some of the strongest partnerships in the Commonwealth. Historically, because of these partnerships, Lowell has positioned itself to be one of the best midsized cities in the country. And those partnerships that I speak about include the Lowell Plan—a group of local businessmen and businesswoman who have come together to work towards the best interests of the city.
Together we have achieved some very important economic initiatives including the building of the LeLacheur Park and the Tsongas Arena. We also have an important partnership with the University of Massachusetts Lowell, which has been instrumental in helping many major companies relocate to the city. Middlesex Community College has been an agent of opportunity and provided the region with a trained workforce that possesses the skills needed for the 21st century. As the mayor I will work to ensure that these partnerships are maintained and strengthened, as I feel they are a vital component of what makes Lowell successful.
Let me close by saying, I do realize that as mayor I am just one of nine. But I do believe that in working together, this new council will create the atmosphere needed for Lowell’s future growth and development. I have often spoke of my mentor, Dr. Patrick Mogan. Pat had a phrase that has stuck with me for many years—it was always about taking things to “the next level.” Together, I feel this city council will be able to take the City of Lowell to the next level, and I am humbled to be tasked with being a part of it.
Following the Mayor’s speech, the next order of business was the election of the Council’s vice chair. The vice chair is chosen in the same format as mayor, with a majority of five votes needed for the appointment.
City Councilor Vesna Nuon who had served on the council from 2012-2013 and returned after a four year absence by topping the ticket in the 2017 election was chosen as the council’s vice chair.
Freshman Councilor Karen Cirillo joined the long-established tradition of signing the inside of her council desk.
Immediately following the City Council inauguration is a similar ceremony for the School Committee. The Mayor is added to the six elected school committee members as the chair of that body.
The membership then chooses a vice chair among the remaining committee members. Jackie Doherty was named as the vice chair of the 2018-2019 Lowell School Committee.
School Committee Vice Chair Jackie Doherty
At the conclusion of the formal ceremonies, the Mayor hosted an inaugural luncheon at Cobblestones for friends and family of the new council, as one last celebration before getting to work. The first meeting of the 2018-2019 term was less than six hours later.
The 90th and 91st Mayors of Lowell, Massachusetts