A crowd of more than 700 people greeted Ralph Becker with a warm reception on a chilly Monday, showering Salt Lake City's new mayor with applause before he took the oath of office and treating him to a standing ovation afterward.
Becker, a longtime member of the Utah House of Representatives, was sworn into office at the Salt Lake City-County Building by his brother, William W. Becker, who became a notary for the occasion, with his other brother, Don Becker, at his side.
Following the formalities and more applause, Mayor Becker proclaimed Monday the beginning of "a new era" for Salt Lake City.
"I am honored and pleased to assume the helm of our city government in a place where the mountains soar, where the economy thrives, where historic neighborhoods enrich and where the community spirit welcomes," he said.
Becker was joined on the east steps of the City-County Building by members of the Salt Lake City Council including Luke Garrott and JT Martin, who also were sworn into office for the first time Monday, and Van Turner, who begins a third term on the council.
Becker called the inauguration the beginning of a partnership between the city administration and the City Council, vowing that "together we will succeed."
The new mayor promised an "open, inclusive, transparent and engaging" dialogue among city elected leaders.
"City Hall will reach out," Becker said.
The mayor also cited several positives in the city upon which the new administration and City Council can build, including an "unparalleled natural setting for any city in the U.S.," being the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the church's estimated $1.5 billion investment in downtown with City Creek Center.
Salt Lake City also has much to accomplish, Becker said, emphasizing the importance of a "first-class education" for every child, protection of the city's natural resources, a vibrant downtown, safe neighborhoods, improved air quality and regional planning and communication.
"With our efforts, Salt Lake City will set the standard for excellent transportation, clean air, quality living spaces, economic opportunities and justice for all," he said. "Together we will move Salt Lake City onto the elite list of great American cities."
Now-former Mayor Rocky Anderson, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, also were in attendance for the inauguration, which kicked off an afternoon celebration that included the opening of a pair of visual-art exhibits and a tree planting at City Hall.
Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Salt Lake City urban forester Bill Rutherford joined Becker for the tree planting, along with third- and fourth-grade students from the Open Classroom Charter School, who sang the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" and assisted in shoveling dirt onto the already planted tree.
"This tree represents Mayor Becker's commitment and faith in our future," said Corroon, who initiated a program last year to plant 1 million trees in the county over the next 10 years.The celebration offered a sneak peek at Becker's "blueprints" in action, showing that he intends to deliver on promises he made during the campaign. In his "Blueprint for Neighborhoods and Gathering Places," Becker touted the importance of increasing and promoting artists' work downtown. Becker also pledged to implement a citywide tree-preservation and planting program in his "Blueprint for a Green City."
E-mail: [email protected]