Lenny Curry and Mike Williams are officially Jacksonville’s mayor and sheriff after being sworn in Wednesday morning at the Times-Union Center.
After Curry took the oath of office, he addressed an audience of community members. Curry says the safety of Jacksonville’s children is one of his top priorities.
“I met a 10-year-old kid months ago that after he told me a story about baseball, told me he saw his friend get shot in the chest,” Curry said. “That should not happen to our kids in this city.“
Curry says prevention and intervention are key with at-risk kids and with that, he will make sure the Jacksonville Journey program is resurrected. The Journey was an initiative by former Mayor John Peyton to stop crime. It largely focuses on programs to get kids on the right track.
“Love can transform this city. We have to be accountable. I’m a person of accountability. I’m a business guy,” Curry said. “But this city needs to know, the at-risk children need to know that we love them, and we care for them. And then all of Jacksonville [needs to know], we’re in this together.”
“One city, one Jacksonville,” was the slogan repeated, and stamped on the program at the inauguration. The message of the new administration is unity.
Curry says he’s ready to own Jacksonville’s problems.
“Our city has faced over the last few years a spike in violent crime and murder,” Curry said. “The city’s finances have not honored the hardworking taxpayers. We face unfunded pension liabilities that could cripple our city. And we struggle to ensure that every single person is treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”
Curry says he vows to connect with Jacksonville’s people, something Sheriff Williams echoed. Williams says community engagement with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will be a measure of its effectiveness.
“It’s great for community leaders to have a relationship with me and they will,” Williams said. “But it’s better for you to have a relationship with the policeman that works in your neighborhood, and that’s going to happen.”
New Jacksonville City Council president Greg Anderson says he appreciated that Curry recognized the hard work of the council, and he’s optimistic about the work ahead.
“There is absolutely no doubt that our government functions best when the legislative branch and working together,” Anderson said. “I think it’s highly critical and I believe our new mayor will work that way and we’re going to work that way as well.”
Curry says beginning July, his administration will conduct a thorough city audit, and provide City Council with a balanced budget in the days ahead.
The ceremony concluded with a soulful rendition of “A Change is Gonna Come” by Jacksonville native Mama Blue, with videos of Jacksonville’s downtown and beaches projected behind her.