SCRANTON — It was a day that was months in the making in Scranton.
Our area’s largest city has a new mayor. The ceremony got underway at noon as Bill Courtright became the 30th Mayor of Scranton.
Courtright cruised to victory in November, and now is inheriting the mayor’s office from Chris Doherty and inheriting the city’s problems.
Doherty chose to step aside and not seek reelection after three terms. He leaves with the city millions of dollars in debt, and with city residents looking at a large property tax increase, and a hike in the garbage fee in 2014.
The new mayor of the Electric City took his oath of office at noon. Mayor Bill Courtright moved into Scranton City Hall today and says he’s ready to start tackling the city’s problems.
Mayor Courtright becomes Scranton’s 30th mayor during what Courtright described as a challenging time for the city. He says the city’s problems will take time, and cooperation, to fix.
“I will discharge the duties of my office as mayor of the city of Scranton.”
Mayor Bill Courtright took his oath of office on the landing leading up from the mayor’s office to Scranton city council chambers, perhaps symbolic of the administration he’s promised to run.
“Our problems are large, but our shoulders are big. Our capacity to solve them is ready for the task,” Courtright said.
Courtright thanked his supporters who filled both floors of city hall, and he asked for everyone’s patience, saying it will take time to solve the city’s financial problems that have plagued the past while seeking ways to improve the future.
In his inaugural speech he said, “if everyone gives a little, no one will need to give much.”
He added, “I think there’s going to be concessions needed all the way around, the public, the employees, myself. Everybody’s going to have to give a little because we have tremendous bills here in the city of Scranton that need to be paid.”
Before the inauguration, three new city council members also took the oath. They and Mayor Courtright have pledged to get along. Council Vice President Pat Rogan hopes to grow business in the first year.
“If business does well, people will do well. There will be more jobs in the city, people will do better. Then with the taxes, even if the rates don’t increase, the dollar amounts do. That’s really the way to grow our city out of its problems,” Rogan said.
That’s a concept many downtown business owners think is already in motion but needs to grow. Jerry Mizrachi owns Abe’s Deli just down from city hall and has seen six mayors start in city hall. He says business is growing but needs to continue.
“We’ve seen more people. We’ve seen more young people coming to downtown. The medical people brought some young people. Fresh blood is always good,” Mizrachi said.
Mayor Courtright talked a lot about concessions and sacrifices on the part of all Scrantonians. That includes a hefty property tax increase implemented by the previous mayor and council. Courtright says he doesn’t plan to reopen the budget and make any changes, and he’s confident it will fund the government for his first year.
The inaugural celebration will move to the Scranton Cultural Center a block away from city hall. The inaugural gala is set to start at 7 p.m.