New Year is a time to celebrate democracy at its best.
Locally, civic leaders were administered their Oaths of Office in Bay Village, Westlake and other communities as the New Year began.
In Bay Village, civic inauguration is a New Year’s Day tradition. Incumbent Mayor Debbie Sutherland, as well as most of City Council, took their solemn oaths administered by Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court Judge Robert McClelland.
“This ceremony demonstrates what is best about our country: The smooth and peaceful transition of power,” said Mayor Sutherland at the Dwyer Center event.
The ceremony opened with a heartfelt invocation offered by Bay Village Fire Chief Christopher Lyons. Law Director Gary Ebert welcomed guests and dignitaries. He displayed a treasured set of cufflinks, passed down to him from longtime Bay Village City Council President, the late T. Richard Martin. The gesture honored the valued traditions of our democracy on the local level.
In Westlake, City Council members and Law Director John Wheeler were sworn in by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell on Jan. 2.
Upon concluding the ceremonies, Justice O’Donnell – a St. Edward High graduate who resides in Rocky River – took a few moments to address a large audience in Westlake City Council Chambers on the importance of the event. This day, he said, represents what is best about America – the smooth and peaceful transition of power.
“It is a great honor to have the privilege to administer the oath. In so many countries – you look around the world – they don’t transfer power the way we transfer power in the United States,” said Justice O’Donnell. “We are the envy of the world. It is the reason our borders are being breached. We have something that we sort of take for granted. We transfer power with an oath. Your presence here tonight witnesses that. Even though it is a jovial occasion and everyone is having fun, this reflects our democracy. It is what we have in this country that others do not have around the world. I tell you tonight, this is a special honor and privilege to be here. It is something that I hope we all don’t just take for granted. This is really government in action, and you witnessed it.”
Yes, Americans do engage in heated political dialogue. In Westlake Council Chambers, several notable rivals were in attendance. But honoring our country’s principled foundation remains paramount as we set aside that which divides us on a day where we celebrate the civility which binds us as a great community and nation.