City Council Installs New Leaders

July 02, 2003  

N E W S M E D I A A D V I S O R Y

July 2, 2003

City Council and Constitutional Officers
Installation Ceremony

When speaking to the large crowd gathered for the City Council and Constitutional Officers Installation Ceremony on Thursday evening, June 26, 2003, President Lad Daniels shared what he would like to focus on during his leadership.

'I want us to view Jacksonville as we want it to be, as a city that is concerned about the true equality of opportunity for each of us; that constantly strives to remove barriers that hinder frank, open discussion of sensitive issues facing us; and that seeks to improve the education of our people whether in Head Start, high school, college or active in the workforce.'

This year's ceremony was held at the Florida Times-Union Center for Performing Art's Moran Theater and included the swearing in of not only our newly elected City Council under the leadership of President Lad Daniels and Vice President Elaine Brown, but also four of our constitutional officers: Property Appraiser Jim Overton, Tax Collector Mike Hogan, Supervisor of Elections John Stafford, and Sheriff John Rutherford.

Excited about what our new Council and city leaders can accomplish, Council Vice President Elaine Brown shared her thoughts for the coming four years with the audience. 'We must always fight fiercely for the little things that make big differences for disadvantaged neighborhoods, children, seniors and others who often get left out or left behind when the 'big picture' is being painted.'

The event was especially meaningful as it centered on The Faces of Jacksonville, a montage video showcasing the diversity and richness of all of the ages, career paths, cultures and backgrounds from which Jacksonville can draw.

This theme was interwoven throughout the evening with musical selections as part of the program and an assortment of international foods presented during the reception that followed.

In the spirit of celebrating our diversity, Daniels offered, 'We can only advance as a society, as neighbors, and as a city and we can only preserve our unique quality of life if we are open with each other, if we can begin to trust one another, and if we can appreciate our differences and celebrate our similarities.'

The Charles D. Webb Award traditionally is the Council's most prestigious internal honor as each year the outgoing president selects a recipient from among his peers. Outgoing President Jerry Holland chose two members of the Council this year for their outstanding commitment and service to the Council and to the City. They are returning District 8 Council Member Gwen Yates and retiring District 12 Council Member Doyle Carter.

Giving some of the reasons why he selected Councilwoman Yates as one of this year's recipients, Holland said, 'Her public record for serving our community has stretched over several decades. She truly represents the good in all of us. She has been a lifelong advocate for senior citizens, youth programs and has a passion for public health and safety and has always been willing to tackle the tough issues facing our community.'

Holland added, 'Councilman Carter is the other Council member who will share this year's award. He has poured his heart out to do the very best for both his community and the City of Jacksonville. His passion to always represent the 'little guy,' while being fair to everyone, is truly admirable.'

Additionally, a special perpetual award, the Robert O. Johnson Good Government Award, was created this year in honor of retiring Council Auditor, Bob Johnson, who will leave local government service after 35 years with the City. The award was given to Johnson this first year for his commitment to service, outstanding integrity and honesty while working for the City Council and people of Jacksonville. Each year, the award will find a new home with a city employee who best personifies these qualities.

As a finale to the ceremony, everyone joined in singing 'God Bless America.' Simultaneously fifty members from all branches of our United States Armed Services ascended, as if by magic from beneath the stage, and saluted the audience as our grand and glorious American flag was slowly lowered behind the honored guests on stage.