Our View: New City Council takes office
It was a historic night in High Point. Bernita Sims, a High Point native and 10-year veteran of City Council, took the oath of office to become the city’s first black mayor.
The event took place for the first time in the expanse of the High Point Theatre before several hundred people who attended because of the historical significance and also to witness the swearing in of eight other victors in the Nov. 6 city elections. Those eight representatives – in wards and at large – and the mayor make up the nine-member City Council.
It was a nice setting for the swearing-in ceremony, but it wasn’t a big, fancy, costly “coronation” of the city’s first black mayor. In fact – and to Sims’ credit – the event seemed at times more about the other eight members of City Council than about the new mayor.
Henry Frye of Greensboro, former chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court (and that body’s first black chief justice), administered the oath of office to Sims. He followed that duty by also administering oaths individually to the other eight City Council members – four of whom are new faces on City Council. Additionally, after Sims briefly thanked her family, friends and supporters, other members of the new council were given the opportunity to offer their appreciation to family, friends and supporters as well.
In another aspect, Monday night’s swearing-in ceremony likely made additional history. Seven of the city’s nine City Council seats (including the mayor’s seat) actually changed hands, although three of them were filled by familiar faces. The two At Large seats were filled by incumbent Britt Moore and Becky Smothers, who ran for council instead of seeking re-election as mayor. Ward seats were filled by: Jeff Golden in Ward 1; incumbent Foster Douglas in Ward 2; former mayor and council member Judy Mendenhall in Ward 3; Jay Wagner in Ward 4; Jim Davis in Ward 5; and Jason Ewing in Ward 6.
In remarks during the ceremony, Sims noted her intention to appoint three special commissions to promote involvement and livability in High Point. She also said she was excited to be leading the city for the next two years as it steps up to compete in a global environment. And in their own comments, the other eight members of City Council sounded ready for action to move the city forward, too.
But of course, the easy part is over – winning an election and being installed into office. Now, the hard part begins ... leading.