Phoenix officially has a new mayor. Mayor Kate Gallego took the oath of office Thursday morning at the Orpheum Theatre in the city’s downtown.
Mariachi Rubor, an all-women mariachi band, opened the ceremony on the stage of the historical theater. Gallego sat in the middle of the stage flanked by the city’s eight council members.
Six-year-old Anaik Singh Sachdev, a Sihk boy who advocated for state educational standards to reflect the history of his religion, gave the pledge of allegiance.
Rabbi John Linder, from Temple Solel in Paradise Valley, gave an invocation focused on celebrating and defending the city’s diversity.
“Mayor Gallego, your Phoenix will be a no-place-for-hate city,” Linder said. “Mayor Gallego, your Phoenix will be a city that honors the divine spark in every resident – from the unemployed, to the mentally ill, to the homeless, to the undocumented. You will raise the bar to restore people’s human dignity through a culture of compassion with the resources, services and rights they deserve.”
Linder added, “Your metrics of success, along with cutting-edge economic development, will measure how we treat the most vulnerable in our midst.”
Gallego took the pledge of allegiance with her parents and son Michael by her side. She walked to the podium to give the inaugural address as the crowd clapped, cheered and chanted, “Kate! Kate! Kate!”
She spoke about the impressions Phoenix left her when she visited the city to play softball from her hometown in Albuquerque.
“Phoenix is a city where anyone can come and make a difference,” she said. Gallego quipped that, among the mayors of the country’s 10 largest cities, she’s the shortest. She said she’s the youngest too, and hinted at the fact she’s the only woman among them as she said, “I’m the only one who sold Girl Scout cookies to support her troop.”
Gallego said Phoenix is a city that exudes optimism.
“We’re an open city where the results you deliver is the most important metric,” she said.
She said it’s a special time to lead Phoenix.
“The opportunity of our generation is to define Phoenix, to do what previous generations did for other great cities around the world. It’s up to us to protect the future of light rail and build a transportation system.”
Gallego gave a nod to “two giants we lost last year,” Sen. John McCain and Congressman Ed Pastor, and said she wants to advance their vision to “bring new life” to the Salt River.
When Gallego paused to allow for the crowd to clap as she mentioned McCain and Pastor, Councilwoman Laura Pastor, the late congressman’s daughter, tapped her heart and raised her right hand to the sky.
Gallego touched on familiar themes from the campaign trail. She said the city needs to work on affordable housing, homelessness and in spreading investment to different areas of the city. She said she’s supporting bold, innovative ideas and work to veterans and older adults.
The new mayor ended her speech by calling for a healthy debate of ideas and “civility” in government and community life.
Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community gave closing remarks. An energetic and upbeat dance and musical performance by Bragg About It closed out the program.
Phoenix still has another election in May to fill two other seats on City Council. Councilwoman Vania Guevera, who was appointed to the dais for District 5 last year, will face union organizer Betty Guardado to serve until 2021. Immigrant rights activist Carlos Garcia and councilman Michael Johnson will vie for a seat in District 8 to serve until 2023.