MANCHESTER, NH – The Jan. 2 inauguration of Mayor Joyce Craig at the Radisson put a spotlight on youth, women, and Manchester’s multicultural communities.
The ballroom was filled to overflowing with an animated, excited crowd, and included five former mayors – Sylvio Dupuis, Raymond Wieczorek, Robert Baines, Frank Guinta and Ted Gatsas, who were seated on stage. Also in attendance were many city and state officials, as well as Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess, a fellow Democrat.
It opened with the flourish of bagpipes and drums by the New Hampshire Police Association, and flags carried by formally attired members of the Manchester Fire and Police departments.
John Clayton of the Manchester Historical Association was the Master of Ceremonies.
Matthew Normand, City Clerk, administered the oaths of office to the Board of School Committee, the Board of Aldermen, and the ward moderators, clerks and selectmen. The Mayor’s husband, Michael Craig, administered the oath of office, while their three children held the Bible. The board members and the mayor wore white corsages.
Youth participated and provided stage
Music, provided by Queen City Combo, a student jazz band, played while the crowd filled the ballroom, and during the processional. Members included Daniel Powers, Eliot Lawrence, Lydon Philbrook, and Brad Aiken of Central High School, and Pamela Martinez and Lily Rousseau of West High School.
Caylee, Isabella, Jazmin, and Violet of Girls at Work led the Pledge of Allegiance. Members of that group constructed the podium – which was signed by each of the girls – presented as a gift to Mayor Craig during her campaign.
Singers from the Boys and Girls club performed the National Anthem, including Kristy Lauture of Central High School, and Shaliece Dukes and Shayla Dukes of Manchester School of Technology.
City Year Corps members in their distinctive red jackets accompanied the mayor-elect and newly elected members of the Board of School Committee and the Board of Aldermen in the formal processional at the start of the ceremony.
A multicultural welcome was offered by city residents in seven languages, a theme which was reinforced in the invocation by Deacon Edward P. Munz, D. Min., of St. Catherine of Siena. Community participants included:
- Arthur Gatzoulis, Greek
- Touria Barton, Arabic
- Wanda Castillo, Spanish
- Habib Ullah, Urdu
- Victoria Munmini, Lingala
- Yang Wang, Mandarin Chinese
- Adele Baker, French
Rabbi Gary Atkins of Temple Israel gave the closing benediction, evoking Leonard Nimoy’s Vulcan salute for “Live long and prosper,” which the actor based on a Jewish tradition. The rabbi then chanted the biblical three-part blessing in Hebrew.
Women honored, schools highlighted
In her introduction, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, celebrated the strength, leadership and vision of Joyce Craig, who is the first female mayor of Manchester.
Mayor Craig expressed her gratitude to her family and supporters, during her remarks. Craig said economic prosperity for the city going forward is dependent on improving city schools and making sure today’s students are prepared for tomorrow’s work force.
“To accomplish this we must be creative and bold,” said Craig, adding that the district must set measurable goals for students, while modernizing curriculum focused on improving student achievement through public-private partnerships.
“This work will not be easy or quick but it is essential. I’m confident that working together we will make progress for our students and for our future,” said Craig.
Craig also promised to deliver a budget under the tax cap, and spoke about the importance of fiscal responsibility while retaining essential city services.
She said she plans to “lead from the neighborhoods, not from behind my desk,” and promised to hold regular “office hours” at businesses, retirement communities, schools and community centers, to “make City Hall more accessible to everyone.”
Craig said the city has great potential, and she will work “together” with residents to make Manchester a welcoming city that celebrates both its history and its diversity. “Today is the first day of a new Manchester. I am honored to be your mayor. Now, let’s get to work,” she said.
Inauguration committee worked fast to organize two events
The inauguration committee – co-chaired by Elizabeth Hitchcock, Paul LeBlanc, Arthur Gatzoulis, and State Rep. Mary Health, all of Manchester – worked together to organize the inauguration ceremony. John Clayton, the Master of Ceremonies, described the team’s scramble to arrange the room for the inauguration two days after the ballroom was the site of a large wedding.
The committee also organized an Inaugural Ball, to be held on Saturday, January 13 at the Radisson in Manchester. Visit www.craiginaugural.com for more information or to purchase tickets.