With a general theme of “One City, One Jacksonville” emphasizing optimism and unity, a joint inauguration ceremony was held for Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams this week.
More than 1,200 Jacksonville residents gathered at the Times-Union Center for Performing Arts joining Florida Gov. Rick Scott, several former mayors and other dignitaries for the ceremony.
The two men took the oath of office and made short speeches preceded by addresses by Bishop John Guns of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and Frederick Newbill of First Timothy Baptist Church.
Bishop John Guns, who has been active in Jacksonville’s battle against gun violence, delivered an emotional address on community unity.
“We must unite. We must willfully meet in the middle, cementing in grace, bonding together in gratitude,” Guns said. “We must unite by a common vision that will be led by our mayor and our sheriff, inspired by a view of intrinsic worth evident in this glorious, great city.”
“I’m honored that you, the voters, have given me this opportunity. I will lead with a focus on opportunity and urgency. Many of the problems before us are not of our making, but they’re are ours to own and ours to act upon,” Curry said, then asked everyone in the audience to join hands with the person next to them, even if it’s uncomfortable. “In the years ahead, we are going to fight together; we are going to work together; we are going to love each other.”
“I’m a son of Jacksonville. This is home, and I want it to be the safest place possible,” Williams said. “We have to devote equal energy to a strategic world of crime and pledge to find pathways of peace, knowing that we are not truly successful until all children are safe in their own neighborhood.”
Due to the timing of the budget, the two newly elected officials must immediately go to work trying to find funding to additional police officers and to fund the just-signed Police and Fire Pension Fund which are promises made during their campaign.
The well produced free event was funded by sponsors but tickets were required.
Festivities closed with a rousing rendition of “A Change is Going to Come” by Mama Blue, as with any administration, everyone is looking forward to that.