Saturday, July 20, 2024

Reelected Somerville City Council president Ben Ewen-Campen shows a graph during a Tuesday speech. (Photo: Emily Pauls)

Cheers erupted as Mayor Katjana Ballantyne was sworn in Tuesday for her second term as Somerville mayor – as noted in her speech, only the second woman mayor in the city’s history.

“I’m honored and humbled to serve you for another two years,” Ballantyne said in her speech during ceremonies in Somerville High School’s auditorium. “My promise to you is the city government that values the community’s voice, seeks out best practices and follows the data and science. I promise an administration that always holds itself to the highest standards of fiscal responsibility.”

Delivering “quality core services” such as schools and public safety is a commitment for her new term, she said.

“Our pursuit of progress for all will remain centered on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion,” Ballantyne said. “The culture wars raging across the nation will not shake us. Somerville will hold true to these values.”

Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne is sworn in Tuesday. (Photo: Emily Pauls)

City councilors and School Committee members were also inaugurated Tuesday.

New to the council is Ward 5’s Naima Sait. In an interview after the ceremony, she said she is excited to start working with the community and asked youth especially to reach out. “We have a lot to learn from them,” said Sait, a French teacher at Somerville High School.

Before the inauguration, the council reelected Ward 3’s Ben Ewen-Campen as president and Ward 7’s Judy Pineda Neufeld as vice president. The School Committee reelected Ilana Krepchin as chair and Sarah Phillips as vice chair.

Data of governing

In his speech at the ceremony, Ewen-Campen decided to stray from the norm of basing his speech on a literary theme.

“I love literature, but as some of you may know, my day job is as a biologist, so this year I’m going to be true to my roots, and I decided to make this speech a science fair project,” Ewen-Campen said.

Brought to the stage were graphs detailing changes in the city over multiple years in housing, safe streets and trees. The three graphs showed an increase of trees being planted, an increase of housing stability cases worked on and an increase of street safety projects completed.

“Challenging but rewarding”

Ewen-Campen also made sure to note the work of residents in achieving change in the city.

The way to make progress, he said, is to have more people involved in the political process. It is essential for those in local government to work “alongside” the people, even when it can be “frustrating” and even when there are disagreements.

“That is how we continue to get stuff done,” Ewen-Campen said. “Making progress in local government is incredibly challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Just like shopping at Market Basket on a Sunday.”

Invocations and entertainment

Somerville musician and educator Marcus Santos, emcee for the city’s Tuesday inaugural event, performs as part of the band Grooversity. (Photo: Emily Pauls)

Between speeches and swearings-in, emcee and Somerville educator Marcus Santos, an Afro-Brazilian percussionist, performed a drum session with his musical group Grooversity. Smirline Jacques performed an original poem and a Highlander Theatre ensemble performed “Raise You Up/Just Be” from the stage musical “Kinky Boots.”

The Rev. Dieudonné Raymond gave the ceremony’s invocation; Massachusetts secretary of transportation Monican Tibbits-Nutt gave a greeting; and Bryan Bishop performed the closing number, “We Shall Be Free.”