Sam Adams takes mayoral oath at Parkrose High

Find out why “Mayor Sam” chose outer East Portland for his public swearing-in ceremony. Also, see our exclusive photos, and read the full text of Adams’ remarks, right here …

Parkrose School District Board Chair James Woods Ph.D. checks over his opening remarks, while superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray awaits the swearing-in ceremony for Sam Adams to begin, at the Parkrose High School Theater.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Perhaps you’ve seen the 60-second TV version of the story: At the Parkrose High School Theater, about 400 people gathered on January 5th to witness Sam Adams’ public Mayoral swearing-in ceremony.

But, there’s more to the story which you might find interesting: Why Parkrose High was chosen, and want was said at the occasion by its participants.

Superintendent on Adams ‘Education Cabinet’
We asked Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Fischer Gray why she thought Parkrose was chosen as the location for this event.

“I think it came about because I am doing quite bit of work with the Mayor’s office, and will be part of his ‘education cabinet’. While he was preparing to take office, the superintendents of Portland area school districts met with him to talk about the things they think are important about improving education.”

Gray added that she feels thoroughly delighted and excited about the swearing-in ceremony being in Parkrose. “I feel honored and privileged.  I’m looking forward to working with Mayor Sam Adams in the months and years ahead.”

At the event on January 5, Parkrose High Principal Roy Reynolds commented, “There’s no better place that represents Portland than Parkrose. With the diversity here – the broad spectrum of students, and the community that we serve – Parkrose is Portland’s future.”

Dr. James Woods, Chair of the Parkrose School Board, introduces the event with theatrical allusions.

Introduction laced with theatrical allusions
The Chair of the Parkrose School Board, Dr. James Woods, revealed an irrepressible sense of humor as he began the program.

“This setting is truly appropriate, here in the theater,” Woods began. “While the ceremony won’t have the grandeur of being tapped on the shoulder with a sword, or being draped in ermine robes, it is the way we do things around here. In keeping with the theatrical motif, we’ll have a chorus out here in a moment. There will be some rote recitation, and if I know my politicians well enough, there will be a least one soliloquy.”

Woods identified several honored guests, beginning with former Mayor Vera Katz.  He also introduced the new slate of Portland City Commissioners: Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz, Randy Leonard, and Dan Saltzman.

The stage curtains open, and the Parkrose High Debonairs, under the direction of Lesley Bossert, sing the National Anthem.

Music and swearing
After the Parkrose High Debonairs sang the National Anthem, Woods introduced the Honorable Judge Jean Kerr Mauer.

Judge Mauer said it was an honor and a privilege for her to administer Sam Adams’ oath of office. “As we know, the public ceremony is an important part of what we ask of our public officials. It is an opportunity for the person who is assuming the office to declare publicly the vow – if you will, the oath – to uphold the law, and to refrain from personal interests. And it is important to all communities that that oath be taken publicly, in a public forum, and in front of members of the community that the public official serves.”

That Mayor Adams selected Parkrose High as the location for his public swearing-in, Mauer noted, “speaks volumes about the importance to him of children and education. Before we move forward with the oath, I like to ask Mayor Adams if he has anything to say at this time.”

Heeeeere’s Sam!
Officials on the stage, and people in the audience, looked around for Sam Adams – he was nowhere in sight. Nevertheless, they started applauding for him. Adams then walked out through the center of the closed curtains on the theater stage, and the applause grew even louder.

“I guess I’ve gotten so used to waiting to become mayor,” Adams quipped, “I was backstage wondering ‘How do I know when to come out?’  …There are a couple of things I need to do before I go any further.”

Mayor Adams gives Dr. Karen Fischer Gray a bouquet – and a hug – as he did with several other family members and dignitaries in the audience.

Brings bouquets to family and supporters
With an armload of floral bouquets, Adams strode down into the audience and gave flowers to his grandmother, to former Mayor Vera Katz, to Parkrose Schools Superintendent Gray, and to several other individuals.

Adams also introduced his father, seated midway in the auditorium remarking, “He is shy”.

Judge Mauer administers the oath of the mayor’s office to Sam Adams.

Back on stage, Adams rejoined Judge Mauer, and took the oath of his new office.

He repeated after the judge, “I, Sam Adams, do solemnly affirm that I will support the constitutions of the United States and of the State of Oregon, the charter of the City of Portland and its laws; and will faithfully, honestly, and ethically perform my duties as Mayor of the City of Portland.

“I have no undisclosed financial interest in any business located in Portland, or having any contracts with the city. I hold no other office or position of profit, and I am not a member of any partisan political committee.”

Sam Adams addresses his first audience as Portland’s mayor.

The audience applauded enthusiastically as Portland Mayor Sam Adams turned to address the audience. He began his speech saying, “My name is Sam Adams, and I am thrilled to be your mayor. I thank the judge for swearing me in, and I thank the Parkrose Broncos for their excellent hospitality.”

Adams’ remarks, in their entirety, appear at the end of this article.

Reverend William Lupfer provides the convocation closing the event.

Channels power to Adams
Closing the formal program, Reverend William Lupfer asked that all audience members to put their hand on the shoulder the person next to them. “I realize it might be a little touchy-feely for some in this crowd, but we want to channel all of the energy in this room in towards Sam; please do what you do when you pray.

“Holy and life-giving Spirit, we ask your blessing and care upon Sam upon his person,” Lupfer began. “We know the only way that he can lead is with a healthy soul.  So we thank you for Sam; we ask you to strengthen him.”

In his prayer, Lupfer asked of those in City government that “… some of the rivalry and squabbling be relaxed a bit, [that] they may come together in an unusual and powerful way to be a symbol of how all people in Portland can come together.”

Former Portland Mayor Vera Katz enthusiastically answers questions posed by a television news reporter after the ceremony.

The Parkrose High stage fills with well-wishers who greet Mayor Adams.

Celebration, with punch and cookies
At the conclusion of the official ceremony, the stage curtains swept open, revealing tables laden with cookies, punch and coffee.

The Chair of Parkrose Neighborhood Association, Mary Walker, greets Sam Adams.

Parkrose Business Association board member Marsha Lee, of Copy Express, gets a hug from Portland’s new mayor.

Mayor Sam Adams’ remarks

Mayor Sam Adams addresses officials and citizens at his inauguration.

“What a glorious and quirky city we have. Where else can you buy a donut designed to look like ‘dirt’?  Or browse one of the world’s largest bookstores and then walk a couple of blocks to the world’s smallest park. There is a reason experts always seem to rank us so high. As the nation’s most livable city, the best city for seniors, the best city for walkers — a city known for its bikers and hikers; food and flowers; beer and bridges.

“The reason for all this is clear: That reason is you. Us. All of us. Because we have created this think-different, keep-it-real, improve-the-world kind of culture; a culture of sustainability, a culture you can’t find just anywhere else. It is the reason why Portland is a city we can love. And it’s those values that position us to thrive at this moment of transition and transformation.

“Portland has also become what it is, in part, because of our leaders. Like Mayor Tom Potter. He brought youth, immigrants, Portlanders of color into civic decision-making. Like Mayor Bud Clark.  He boosted the city’s rainy day fund from a few thousand dollars to $20 million. And like my dear friend, Mayor Vera Katz. She created beautiful Portland places like the esplanade that circles the Willamette. Thank you. We are better people and a better place because of you.

“And before I go further, I want to thank my family, like my brother and sisters, my Mom and Dad; my boyfriend, Peter; and all the friends who keep me grounded and accountable. I love you guys.

“It’s a new year, and now Portland has new leadership. The 2009 City Council brims with fresh ideas. Please stand up. Auditor Gary Blackmer; Commissioners Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz, Randy Leonard and Dan Saltzman: I am excited to work with you. We are a small team with big plans, a city council willing to take on smart but unconventional ideas that give Portland its standout innovations.  Also: Portland has strong bureau management and dedicated city workers. You will help us steer a constructive course.  I have a tremendous team: perhaps the best mayoral staff in public service today, anywhere. Will my team please stand up?

“Together – with all Portlanders – we will make the city even better. Because Portland is better together and because Portland belongs to all of us.

“We will do more than just push back on the problems that confront us.  Together, we will push ahead.  Our goals are tough but doable. Make Portland the greenest city on earth.  Stoke our capacity for creativity and groundbreaking innovation.  Brand and sell Portland-made products and services around the globe.  Find more of our people family-wage jobs and affordable housing.  Keep Portlanders safe.  And, regardless of neighborhood or race or household income, educate all of our kids to world-class standards.

“As mayor, I will take risks to innovate. I will be grateful to those who help.  If things don’t work out as expected, I will take responsibility for failures.  To those who disagree with me, let’s not be disagreeable.  I promise to listen to you. Your ideas may be better than mine and your participation makes us stronger.  Because Portland is better together.

“Our community, of course, has problems — big problems – and fixing them will be tough.  The work might go slow.  This will be frustrating, at times. But we need to recognize that our problems can also offer us opportunities.  One thing is absolutely certain: Despite the worst economic recession in 60 years bearing down on us, Portland cannot wait; the time to move is now.

“To set a standard of action, in coming weeks I will announce my plans for the first 100 days in office.  To set a standard of inclusion, I will soon announce my citizen mayoral cabinet members.

“In addition to supporting the work of my council colleagues, as mayor, my focus is on jobs, education and sustainable planning. Let’s talk about jobs first.

“Almost three out of ten Portlanders are unemployed or make so little they can barely afford basic essentials like food.  This means the city needs more family-wage jobs. Good jobs that come from successful and ethical businesses.  The City Council will work to support such companies to open, expand and stay here.  And we have already started.

“The resurgent Portland Development Commission and Governor Ted Kulongoski last month helped us attract the proposed North American headquarters of Vestas Wind Systems. That’s 850 more jobs and a quarter of a billion dollars in a private-sector investment in Portland.  Now we need our legislature to approve the deal.

“To help businesses more immediately, the Portland City Council this month will unveil the city’s first local job creation and economic stimulus package.  I intend it to include scholarships so people recently laid off can get training at our Worksource Centers and community colleges.  Also, I want provisions in the stimulus package to give local companies – and companies that hire local workers – “buy local” preferences in awarded city contracts.

“To build our local economy on a firm foundation of accountability, we aim to integrate these and other efforts into an economic development plan.  And, as Mayor, I am putting out the city’s ‘welcome mat’ to businesses.

“Another area of focus for me is schools. Here’s one figure that scares me.  Count off four eighth graders. One. Two.  Three.  Four.  In Portland, chances are that two of them will drop out of high school.

“Making sure our children graduate high school is more than an ethical thing; it is a smart investment in our future prosperity.  Our economy hinges on an educated workforce.

“So, Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler and I have created a new education improvement partnership with local school districts and local school foundations.  We are collecting the best ideas on how to reduce the dropout rate.  Here is one idea.  Studies show that 8th graders going on to 9th grade are more likely to excel academically if
they get workplace experience during their summer vacation.

“So let’s help our students get the experience they need.  Let’s create the Portland Youth Corps.  For the summer of 2009, just five months away, the Portland Youth Corp would need 250 adults to volunteer as coaches.  These coaches will partner with employers to welcome young people to the workplace. You will be asked.

“Schools make the American Dream possible.  We need our families and teachers to educate our students to first class standards so all our children can soar.  Yes, education costs money.  Ignorance costs more. Let’s invest now.

“My third priority is sustainability. Sustainability means meeting our needs without compromising our children’s ability to thrive.  It means economic, social and environmental justice.

“We all know which bad habits that contribute to this planet’s potential environmental doom. We rely on a dwindling supply of fossil fuels. Burning them, poisons our atmosphere. Our climate is changing faster than experts expected.

“Here’s a silver lining to this toxic cloud:  Portland is the ideal starting place for this nation to get serious about environmental sustainability.  We can show what’s possible, setting an example the rest of the world can follow.  And we can prove sustainability pays off.  Our economy benefits from an estimated $2.6 billion annual green dividend. Portlanders get money back into their pockets through the automobile miles not driven, worse congestion not experienced and pollution not breathed.  Our green dividend grew from public investments in transit and land-use planning.

“Portland may be the greenest city in the country.  That’s no longer good enough.  We aim to be the greenest city on earth. We can do this with thoughtful planning that integrates Portland’s value of sustainability into everything we do.  I want to see this philosophy put into action with the completion of the Portland Plan, a blueprint for the next 30 years.

“The Portland Plan will put density where density belongs and shape our city so that the necessities of a good life, like grocery stores, are a 20-minute walk from home.

“But we need more than planning.  We need more sustainable ‘doing’, too.

“So, I am thrilled today to join the Governor and the Oregon University System to announce the proposed Oregon Sustainability Center, to be located in the Portland State University district.  Governor Kulongoski has included $80 million of state bonds in his proposed budget to help pay for it.  Thank you, Governor.

“A green revolution is about to bloom across America.  Let’s make Portland the hub.

Better Together
“In closing, I want to repeat a quote that I used on the campaign trail: The Scottish writer Alasdair Gray once wrote, ‘Work as if we are living in the early days of a better nation.’

“To me, this means working with a young nation spirit of belonging to something you can believe in. Even in the toughest of times, Portlanders never let our “young nation” spirit die. At our best, Portlanders do more than just push back on problems.  We push ahead. If we can channel our collective energy for the common good, there’s no stopping us, no problem we can’t solve, no opportunity we cannot seize.

“In the coming days, the City Council will announce an initiative that will make it easier for Portlanders to pitch in. Imagine a Portland with more people like Matt Todd, a city maintenance worker I met in December during a late-night ride-a-long on a city plow.

“Matt volunteers as a groundskeeper for Jefferson High School.  Nobody asked him to, but every summer, he mows and edges the sports fields.  He keeps the school’s outdated irrigation system functioning.  He spends many, many hours making the fields look better. Matt has respect, appreciation and fulfillment that come with improving a piece of Portland.  Thank you, Matt.

“I will work hard as your mayor to make Portland even better. And I ask that you work at it, too: because Portland is better together, and the responsibility for its care belongs to all of us.

“We need everyone’s help to move Portland forward, so I will close by paraphrasing a hero of mine, Harvey Milk, a great city leader, “My name is Sam Adams, and I’m here to recruit you!”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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