Mayor George S. Hansel
3 Washington St.
Keene, NH 03431
JANUARY 1, 2020 INAUGURAL ADDRESS
Good afternoon and welcome.
Former Mayor Lane, city manager Elizabeth Dragon, Patty Little our clerk, city attorney Tom Mullins, department heads and staff, city councilors, and importantly the voters in Keene, thank you for the honor of serving as your mayor.
This election was one of the most contested in recent memory. The passion and enthusiasm exhibited by all of those who ran for council seats, and for mayor, highlighted that our city is rich in both leadership and individuals willing to work incredibly hard to make Keene a better place to live.
I’d like to thank Councilor Greenwald, his family and supporters, for helping to frame the important issues for our city. I look forward to working closely with Mitch as a friend and colleague over the next two years, and beyond.
I’d also like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank my friends, neighbors, and family, who have supported me so far. Your job isn’t done and I’m thankful every day to have such talented and giving people around me.
Today begins the next city council session. Today also marks the beginning of a new decade and a new chapter for the Elm City.
Look around the room, we have 6 new councilors. These additions are certain to bring new ideas and energy to the table.
I’d also point out that we have the highest number of women on the council in decades. This is something to celebrate, and we should also be mindful that there is even more work to do to ensure that the representatives in this chamber are a close reflection of the community at large. As our city grows and becomes more diverse, we need to work extra hard to invite representatives of that diversity to the table.
I’d like to offer a new year’s challenge to the new city council and the staff.
The people of Keene voted for change: we must deliver it.
Over the next few months, as we settle into the business of local government, let’s not be satisfied with the status quo. Let’s look boldly towards the next decade and make Keene the best small city in America: a place where everyone feels welcome, where large and small businesses can thrive, and where a responsive city government takes care of our citizens’ needs efficiently.
The success or failure of this council will rely on everyone working together. One mayor, one councilor cannot accomplish very much.
Ultimately, it takes consensus to move something forward in this chamber. Work together, get to know each other, listen to your constituents, and let me know how I can help.
After the election, I received several hand-written letters from people in the community. Some of whom I knew, a few I didn’t. One letter reminded me of something that I think is important for all of us to hear. The letter advised me to always build relationships on trust and mutual respect. It advised me to enable the many smart and dedicated people in Keene who are ready to give back to the community they love. As elected officials, we don’t lead this city in a vacuum. That’s advice I will keep in the front of my mind as your mayor.
We must also be forthright and honest in confronting the challenges ahead. Several of our neighborhoods, especially those on the southeast side of the city, are struggling.
Looking ahead, we should be proactive in ensuring that every neighborhood in the city provides the highest quality of life possible. We need to ensure that every home in Keene is a good investment, and every street is one that you would be proud to grow up on. It won’t take much to get there. A few strategic investments, some elbow grease, tackling one house at a time.
We’ll get there.
Despite some inherent challenges, I’m convinced that Keene is the city of opportunity in the state of New Hampshire. We boast access to four institutions of higher learning; A diverse group of internationally relevant, high-tech manufacturers that consistently lead their peers in both innovation and social responsibility; We have a budding arts scene anchored by institutions such as MOCO Arts and the Colonial Theater. We also have a proven commitment to environmental sustainability, self-reliance, and innovation. We’re a community that doesn’t back down when confronted with big ideas. Instead, we encourage and embrace them. We get together and make big things happen.
Over the coming years, we will show the world what we can do.
Look for us to be proactive in addressing workforce housing, homelessness, environmental sustainability, attracting businesses, maintaining and expanding our vibrant and active downtown core, and creating a welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds.
There is no excuse for inaction. The leadership of this community must come together, utilize and enhance each others strengths, and fill in for any weaknesses. This includes bringing together leaders at the state level, the county, surrounding towns, regional institutions of higher learning, and the business community.
Effective leadership is in place at all of these institutions. It’s a matter of communication and coordination. It’s a matter of focusing on results, and not worrying about who gets the credit.
Here in the Monadnock Region, we’re often forgotten about, and we rarely receive the attention we need or deserve. That trend ends now. Starting with a legislative delegation meeting in the next couple of weeks, we are going to be much more proactive in advocating for ourselves and our needs. We’ll support those doing good work on our behalf and we’ll build on our reputation as an innovative community that leads the rest of New Hampshire.
This attitude and posture will attract other changemakers. We will attract the innovative and socially-conscious businesses, young people and families that we need to help our economy and our community thrive for the next few decades.
The people of Keene voted for change. My challenge to the city’s leaders is to work together and with me to help deliver it. Let's get to work.
Thank you very much.