On the first day of the new year of 2018, Beacon held a swearing-in ceremony for the brand new City Council ward members and two Dutchess County Legislators - all Democrats - who swept local elections after a tumultuous year in politics nationally. As reported by Jeff Simms for the Highlands Current, all citizens running were "first-time candidates, each [winning] by wide margins." The two at-large council members were old hands at this: Lee Kyriacou has served nine terms, and George Mansfield has served five terms so far.
Former City Council member Pam Wetherbee presided over the ceremony. Several notable people attended, including Kenya Gadsden, board member for the Beacon City School District Board of Education, and former Beacon Mayor Steve Gold, who is currently the Chief of Staff for New York State Assemblyman Frank Skartados.
Kicking off the ceremony were Cub Scout Pack 1, Boy Scout Troop 1, and Boy Scout Troop 141 of Beacon. Next, the Beacon High School Chorus, led by teacher Susan Wright, sang "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie, which was a "song special to Pete Seeger, who was someone important to Beacon," Susan stated. (See this stellar New Yorker profile on Pete Seeger by Beacon local David Rees).
The Swearing In
Terry Nelson, representing Ward 1, was sworn in by his daughter and wife, promising: "I will do the best job I possibly can to represent everyone in the City of Beacon." Terry is also a founder of the Beacon Independent Film Festival, and a board member for BeaconArts.
John Rembert, representing Ward 2, was sworn in by his wife, showing gratitude: "I thank the citizens of Ward 2 and the citizens of Beacon, NY, and I will do my best for the citizens of Beacon, NY."
Jodi McCredo, representing Ward 3, was sworn in by her children. Jodi was also one of the founders of the Advocates for Beacon Schools, a group of parents and community members who pushed for change and awareness of the politics and policies in public schools. They were active during the time of a resignation of a Beacon superintendent in 2016 and in the election of three new board members to the Board of Education. That group built a website for publishing information, advocates12508.com, and a similar website has been created for disseminating information about building development projects in Beacon, development12508.com. Said Jodi: "I'm looking forward to what we can do together for Beacon and for Dutchess County."
For her swearing-in, Amber Grant, representing Ward 4, placed the Constitution on her small niece, who was held by Amber's sister. Amber said: "I look forward to getting to work. Hopefully I'll see a lot of you here tomorrow as well (for the next City Council meeting)."
After George Mansfield was sworn in for his at-large position, he reflected: "I was first here eight years ago, when I first ran for office, and it never gets any less exciting. The burden of responsibility is great."
Lee Kyriacou, the City Council's other at-large member, selected The Constitution as his object to be sworn in on. He thanked his family, "my spouse, my two lovely daughters who indulge my passion to indulge in community service., and to the voters who turned out in amazing numbers. Please keep doing that." Lee continued, reflecting on what he called Beacon's journey of renewal. "Beacon has probably done the biggest turnaround of the Hudson Valley, if not, almost anywhere. It's been a pretty important set of roles for us to undertake. I've said from Day 1 - my first Day 1 was 1994 - that Zoning and Enforcement are the most important things that we do." He added, "We aren't going downhill - which is where we were heading in those days. We are headed uphill, but we have to chart a journey that works for our entire community. I look forward to my colleagues on the Council and the County Legislature in charting that journey together."
Frits Zernike for Dutchess County Legislator, District 16. Frits stated: "District 16 extends into Fishkill. It was Beacon's energy that won us this election. I hope to take the energy we have in southern Dutchess County and infuse the entire county legislature with it... Democracy is not a spectator sport. It's nice to be participating this way. I hope and I trust that you all will continue to participate, show up, pester us, and get done what we need done."
Nick Page for Dutchess County Legislator, District 18, was eager to get started, stating: "The election effort in Beacon was truly astonishing."
The event concluded with a benediction by Reverend Perry from the Springfield Baptist Church.