Today was inauguration day for the mayor and city councilors in the largest city in western Massachusetts.
Domenic Sarno took the oath of office to formally begin a new term as mayor of Springfield during an inauguration ceremony that put his well-known optimism and civic pride on full display and included the playing of a new marketing video that boasts Springfield as a “city on the rise.”
"I have every confidence that Springfield stands on the dawn of an unprecedented renaissance," declared Sarno in his 4th inaugural address.
Sarno is beginning his ninth year as mayor having served a pair of two-year terms followed by a four-year term after the city’s charter was changed in 2011. If he completes this term he will become the longest serving mayor in modern Springfield history.
"Rest assured, I am energized and eager to engage the challenges that will arise over the next four years," said Sarno.
Delivering his fourth inaugural address to an audience of 200 people inside the historic Old First Church, Sarno noted that during the next four years more than $2.5 billion in construction and economic development projects are scheduled for completion. Chief among these is the $950 million MGM casino and the $85 million reconstruction of Union Station.
" I look forward to celebrating with all of you as milestone after milestone is achieved," said Sarno.
Just 15 years ago Springfield was facing bankruptcy and a state-appointed control board took over the city’s finances. Now, Springfield has the highest bond ratings in its history and a large cash reserve. The city has also made a dramatic recovery from the tornado that tore through it five years ago.
Sarno said his administration has invested in improvements to neighborhood parks and libraries, the crime rate is down, and test scores in the city’s public schools are rising.
" The progress we have achieved is real," Sarno said. " Now is not the time for pessimism and doubt."
Sarno did not announce any new initiatives during his 15- minute address. In an interview he said he would continue to work to bring more market-rate housing to Springfield and facilitate the transformation of the central business district into an innovation center.
He praised Gov. Charlie Baker for making the opioid crisis a statewide priority and said Springfield police would continue to aggressively pursue heroin dealers.
" More importantly is being proactive on educational opportunities, employment opportunities, and that will stop this tide down the road," said Sarno.
City Councilor Michael Fenton was elected by his colleagues to an unprecedented third consecutive one-year term as city council president.
" What you can expect from me for the next 12 months is to continue to focus on the proper place of the city council in local governance as we continue to move forward with some exciting days for our city," said Fenton.
Fenton announced the council will hold a series of public hearings during the last two weeks in January to review controversial design changes MGM has proposed in the casino project.