Manchester’s historic Palace Theatre hosted the City of Manchester’s Inaugural Ceremonies on January 5 around 11:00 AM. Honored guests, selected high school students, and many members of the public went to applaud the newly elected and re-elected officials to the Board of School Committee (BOSC) and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA), the Commissioner of Welfare, the ward moderators and clerks, the selectmen, as well as The Honorable Mayor Ted Gatsas. (Click here for the subsequent meetings of the BOSC and BMA.)
For his fourth inaugural address, Mayor Gatsas began by expressing gratitude and appreciation for his family, the honored guests on stage, and everyone in attendance. He spent the rest of his speech discussing some of the city’s greatest accomplishments from the past six years, citing the establishment of the four year high school at the Manchester School of Technology (MST) as a”crowning achievement,” and sharing his plans and hopes for the future of Manchester. The inauguration’s ushers were students from the first graduating class of MST.
Gatsas called on his elected counterparts to “cast politics and personality aside and put the betterment of the Queen City above all else.” He said he believes that they are capable of continuing to improve the entrepreneurial development and revitalization of neighborhoods while working to create a safe environment, helping heroin addicts access treatment and rehabilitation and improving the Manchester School District. In regards to the schools, Gatsas praised Manchester’s being the home to the teacher of the year, school of the year, and two principals of the year all in the past year. He committed to create a recognition system within the district to better praise, recognize, and appreciate those making a difference in the schools.
With a business mentality, the mayor explained that he would appoint working groups of department heads to establish comprehensive goals in the areas of infrastructure, public safety, economic development, and city services. He said he wants to focus on and work towards specific goals that they will be able to accomplish in the next year, between one and three years and over the next five years.
Citing the recent opening of Families in Transition Family Place Resource Center and Shelter, the first emergency shelter for families in New Hampshire, Mayor Gatsas expressed that he was proud and humbled to be a part of this milestone and that he looks forward to similar successes in Manchester’s near future.
Mayor Gatsas used this opportunity to positively reflect on the past and commit to initiatives to improve Manchester in the next two years and beyond. He stood, hopeful, in front of an applauding audience and promised to commit himself to the improvement of Manchester.
Below, we have published the complete text of Mayor Gatsas’ Inaugural Address.
The complete text of Manchester Mayor
Theodore L. Gatsas’ Inaugural Address
Good morning everyone. Coach Spiro, thank you for the introduction.
Chief Willard thank you for swearing me in I am honored. In your short time since being named Chief of the Manchester police department you have quickly become someone that people on the street recognize, feel comfortable coming up to and you are always accessible. Congratulations on a great start!
My family is here with me this morning. I am truly blessed to be supported by this wonderful group and able to share with them the triumphs and the disappointments.
My wife Cassandra who is truly exceptional. She puts up with late nights, early mornings and she’s always pushing me to achieve more. She is also is the person that has to remind me to relax and take a step back. Cassandra’s passion and commitment to my success, and the success of the queen city is limitless. She gives so much of herself and expects nothing in return. I am forever grateful. Thank you Cassandra.
My mother Pauline, or as I think Manchester, and all of you have come to know her as Perley, also joins me. She remains my biggest advocate and most dedicated supporter. Thank you!
And to my biggest critics, my brother Michael and Susan. Michael and I have always operated as a team in everything we do. Our individual strengths balance the others weakness and vice versa. But at the very heart of this relationship is pure, and sometimes brutal, honesty. I may not always agree with it, but I do welcome it, Thank you!
And thank you to my mother-in-law Lorraine for her prayers.
Also here are my niece Amanda and her husband Dan and their three children and my nephew Matthew and his wife Celia and their two children. I used to think that it was me, their uncle, that nurtured them and provided them with the pearls of wisdom to carry them well into the future. This Christmas I realized that the tables have turned.
This year Amanda brought to Christmas a game she thought we might all like to play. Maybe you have heard of it, it’s called Pie Face. Being the good uncle that I am, and at the cajoling of my grand nieces and nephews, I participated. Based upon everyone’s eagerness I should have known they were all up to something! My mother was the first to receive a big handful of whip cream right in the face. For me, at this point there was no turning back I was committed. It was my turn and just as soon as I cranked the handle I got a big handful of whip cream right in the face. To say there was laughter would be an understatement.
So to Amanda, Dan, Matthew and Celia –Thank you for making sure there is always laughter and that our memories are full of fun and light-hearted moments. You remind me every day that family is everything.
I would also like to recognize the former Mayors that are here with us today. Mayor Guinta, Mayor Baines and Mayor Wieczorek. It’s an honor to have each of you join us and Manchester is very fortunate to have a group that continues to dedicate themselves to the city.
Mayor Baines you have made STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education a reality in our school district. Your leadership has been essential and it’s truly wonderful to see this program grow, thank you!
Congressman Guinta your service to the Queen City is commendable and we thank you for making sure our voice is represented in Washington.
And finally Mayor Wieczorek, if you can’t find him on Monday at the Backroom you can find him every other day holding court at the Dunkin Donuts on Webster Street.
Raymond, you have always been someone I admire and look up to. I have a greater appreciation now, more than ever, for your tenure as Mayor. You’ve told me that leadership is not easy and at times can be lonely, but as long as you are true to yourself, and your beliefs, you will come out ahead. I might only say this once, but you are right.
Thank you for your friendship and continued commitment to the Queen City!
If I could ask you to stand as a group and be recognized.
Governor Hassan thank you for joining us today. On behalf of the newly sworn in Board of Aldermen, Board of School Committee and myself it’s an honor to have you participate in our celebration.
Father Wilson, welcome to Manchester and thank you for joining us and providing the benediction.
Thank you to everyone that has worked to make today possible. From Matt Normand and his team in the City Clerk’s office, to everyone here at the Palace Theatre, Charlie Sherman for acting as our emcee – thank you!
I would ask that the following groups and individuals to stand as you are called and remain standing. The Central High School Jazz Band, the West High School Chamber Choir, the West High School ROTC Color Guard, Calla and Matthew Gatsas, Adra and Harper Casey, Charlie Skouteris, Stella Piatt and Caden Capano for leading us in the pledge this morning and to our ushers from the Manchester School of Technology and the first graduating class.
These students are our future and as Mayor of this great city I am extremely proud and I am honored to stand amongst them and I know that someday one of them will be where I am standing ready to lead our city. Thank you.
And now I would like to welcome all of our distinguished guests, fellow city officials, former city officials, former colleagues, friends and Queen City residents to today’s inauguration.
To the newly sworn in members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Board of School Committee, this is a day of celebration, I extend to each of you a sincere congratulations. You have worked very hard to be here and I look forward to the working with you.
Today we begin our journey as the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Board of School Committee –as boards united together for the greater good of the Queen City.
Today we begin the process of governing together. We must cast politics and personality aside and put the betterment of the Queen City above all else.
Today is a day that I have set aside for inspiration and I hope that you will join me and do the same.
As I sat down to work on today’s message I first looked at our past inaugural messages, Imagine the possibilities, Rise to the challenge, Look forward. I reviewed what we had laid out to accomplish, how we had succeeded and what needed more attention and more focus.
In six years we have accomplished so much for our beloved Queen City, made significant progress and received national recognitions for many of our achievements.
Let’s begin by looking at our infrastructure. Six years ago we had a police station that lacked the resources necessary for the men and women of the Manchester police Department and we also had a public works department that was housed in buildings scattered across the city and the work environment in the city garages was unsafe.
Today, the Manchester Police Department and the entire umbrella of the Department of Public Works are housed within the Manchester municipal complex. While the facility on Valley Street is impressive in structure that is not why I mention it today. This facilities benefit is two fold: the second is that it has also provided new stability and safety to the area and neighborhood.
As we travel around the city there is no doubt that some neighborhoods are in need of more attention than others and when the city can provide the impetus for the revitalization of a neighborhood we owe it to future generations to capitalize on the opportunity. This investment will pay enormous dividends and we will all benefit.
Our city history has shown this to be true – we need look no further than to the Verizon Wireless Arena which spurred the revitalization and the transformation of Elm Street or the Odd Fellows hall which was once boarded up now has new cultural vitality.
Our investment and commitment to city infrastructure will continue but with new focus. With the aid and leadership of the city community improvement program, community organizations committed to the cities success and by leveraging partnerships we will identify places within the city in need of revitalization and with development opportunities and bring forward projects that lift a neighborhood and our city.
In the next six months we will see the building that houses the Manchester Police Athletic League for our at-risk city youth at the corner of lake and pine streets transform. The building will change inside and out and it will surely be the catalyst for a neighborhood revitalization. Let this serve as an example, and the beginning, of what is possible and what we can accomplish.
Let it not go unnoticed that this past construction season the city made significant gains in the repair and reconstruction of our roads.
In six years we have developed a pattern for updating and repairing city infrastructure so that city taxpayers can be assured that their investment in our city will be enjoyed well into the future. This commitment will continue.
When it comes to economic development, as a city we are thriving. As someone that has lived here all of my life it’s truly amazing to see how we are transforming.
Our millyard is bustling and turned into a high-tech hub and home to the University of New Hampshire and Southern New Hampshire University.
And not far on South Elm Street what once were a series of vacant buildings has now developed into a state of the art healthcare facility at River’s Edge, Market Basket and new retail.
And on South Willow Street developers will begin to transform the Sylvania property into additional retail space.
And on our west side, just across the river, at the Granite Street gateway to 293, will soon be home to Giorgio’s restaurant and a multi-use facility.
And just one block away from where we sit today the former Citizens Bank building will be home for new downtown residents and exciting and long anticipated, new downtown shops.
In six years, here in the Queen City we have cultivated an environment for developers and entrepreneurs to bring their business, to grow their business and to start their business. We will continue to cultivate this culture to attract developers and business to the queen city so our tax base continues to grow.
And when it comes to public safety we have given our chief the tools he needs to keep our city safe: an increased complement of officers and the resources to employ predictive policing measures to fight crime.
But as we all know our next fight, when it comes to public safety, is taking on the heroin and opioid epidemic. It is a disease and it affects everyone regardless of age, race, income level or family history. If it hasn’t affected you yet, just wait, it will.
Our emergency responders are on the front lines and they are doing their very best. However, if we are to end the epidemic, we must work to make our emergency responders our last line of defense and we do this by making treatment and rehabilitation easily accessible and readily available.
In the next six months HOPE for New Hampshire recovery will open its new facility two blocks away from the Manchester police department at the corner of Valley and Wilson Street in the former Hoits furniture store.
HOPE is building a facility that will house multiple agencies under one roof that are necessary to the recovery process including temporary housing. The city must commit to this project and be a partner in its success.
Too often addicts, and/or their families and friends, find themselves desperate with nowhere to turn. In Manchester, in the immediate future that will not be the case and we will work to end the epidemic.
Further we must lobby Concord as a community, to stiffen the penalties for the selling and distribution of Fentanyl.
And finally when it comes to city services we have succeeded at making city government more accessible to our citizens. If someone asks me, I just say, “don’t worry, we have an app for that?” Whether it be keeping city hall open past 5pm, combining water and sewer billing or providing payment options via your smart phone the City of Manchester has taken a customer-service friendly approach.
From the Tax Office to Senior Services we must always look for ways to serve our citizens better and more efficiently. We have done that, and we will continue to.
In the past few minutes I have touched on four areas: Infrastructure, Public Safety, Economic Development and city services. In all areas we have made significant gains. These improvements and successes should be celebrated, by everyone because they are the result of many people working many hours with a shared commitment to Manchester.
near-term goals, what is possible in a year’s time?
mid-term goals, what is possible in an 2-3 year time span?
long-term goals, what should be accomplished in the next five years.
This will allow us, your city leaders to have shared goals and develop a road map for future city successes.
When it comes to education in the Queen City I have always said, and continue to believe that our biggest strength is our diversity and our greatest asset are our students.
Educationally, we have brought new exciting programming to our city students. We need look no further than to the group of students sitting right here in the front row from the Manchester School of Technology. If I could ask for this group to stand and be recognized.
Ladies and gentlemen standing before you are members of the very first graduating class of the Manchester School of Technology. Your graduation day will be as special for me as it is for you. We will celebrate your academic success, and the success of an educational program that is changing lives and providing opportunities to change your future.
The Manchester School of Technology is a crowning achievement of this district. We will continue to grow the school of technology and the programming, and provide the resources necessary because it is making a difference in your life and the lives of those that will follow you. Your success is my priority. Thank you, I will see you in June!
And let us also recognize the STEAM Ahead and FIRST Jr. STEAM ahead programs. They are successful public private partnerships allowing students to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. And here in Manchester we include the Arts to encompass things like graphic design but also to broaden the appeal of the curriculum to students that otherwise may not think it is for them.
And here in the Manchester School District we can proudly say we are a district that is home to teacher of the year, the school of the year, and two principals of the year. That’s impressive.
While we have received several distinctions of excellence from outside of our district it is time for the Manchester School District to develop its own awards of excellence to celebrate our schools within our district.
In the coming weeks I will work with the members of the Board of School Committee, district staff and the school principals to develop a comprehensive program that will celebrate the excellence that we achieve and recognize within our own district every day.
We will develop new public/private partnerships with area businesses to reward our schools things as new technology, building upgrades and staff development. I am excited about bringing this program forward for the 2016/2017 school year and look forward to a district-wide and community-wide celebration of our achievements.
As I conclude my remarks I’m going to end with a story of inspiration, and what ultimately inspired the framework for my message today.
I recently had the honor of attending the opening of the Families in Transition Family Place Resource Center and Shelter. The center is on Lake Avenue in the heart of the center city. This is the first emergency shelter for families in the State of New Hampshire.
A shelter for homeless children.
It is a safe place providing a warm meal, healthcare facilities and employment assistance for parents.
It is a safe place for homeless children whom otherwise would have no idea where there next meal will come from, or when their next meal will be or where they will sleep.
To that child, in this shelter, on one very cold winter night watching the snow plow from the window the shelter is hope. The shelter is the feeling of contentment and the possibility of tomorrow being better than today.
So here I was at the ribbon cutting and celebration of the family resource center amongst donors, dignitaries and community members feeling both proud, and humbled, to be a part of this milestone.
It was then, in this moment, that this project became something far greater than a celebratory event on this Mayor’s schedule.
This project represents all that can be good and great when city government, the community and the private sector work together.
This project was proof that when we are focused, when we leave politics, partisanship and personality at the door and commit to the betterment of the Queen City – there isn’t anything that we can’t accomplish.
My fellow colleagues the citizens of Manchester want solutions. They want to live in a community where they can inspire and be inspired. We have proved it can happen and I am committed to making sure it never stops.
The citizens of Manchester have put their trust in us and they believe, like I do, in the possibility of tomorrow being better than today.
Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the City of Manchester.