MALDEN – Malden held its 130th mayoral inaugural ceremony on Monday evening, with the newly-minted Mayor Gary Christenson taking the oath of office. Christenson pledged to stimulate the city’s economy while also developing transparency and connectivity at city hall.
Christenson opened his address by recalling a speech he gave on that same stage 27 years prior when he gave his first political speech as he ran for the student council presidency.
“I remember how I felt more than what I said that day,” the Mayor recalled. “Most importantly, I remember how it felt to be given an opportunity to make a difference.”
Christenson outlined how he hopes to make a difference for Malden’s future, setting an ambitious agenda. He pledged to bolster public safety, create a teen center, and relocate city hall. The Mayor also discussed the need for the City to embrace its diversity and harness the true power of multiculturalism.
“I will look to the community leaders to help me harness the immense cultural pride that flows through our city,” Christenson said. “By working together, we will find and foster the ideas that will benefit the entire Malden community.”
“It does not matter where you’re from, what your title is, or what kind of car you drive … if you work hard and dedicate yourself, then anything is possible,” Christenson said.
The evening included a number of cultural presentations to highlight the city’s diversity, including remarks from Christian, Jewish, and Islamic clergy, a traditional dragon dance by a local academy, and the national anthem sung by a citizen naturalized in Malden last year.
The newly-minted Mayor also discussed the need for further transparency and technological integration from city government.
“Malden’s future also lies in the use of modern technology and the implementation of new efficiencies,” Christenson said. “City Hall will utilize social media and other technology to help increase transparency, streamline our government, and become more user-friendly.”
Christenson also acknowledged the difficulties of the current nationwide economic crisis, however, the Mayor vowed to be proactive and not sit back idly.
“Our city could take the easy road and do nothing. We could choose to accept that the economic storm is out of our control,” Christenson said. “We can wait for help to come to us, or wait for it to recover on its own. That’s one choice – but not mine.”
Christenson asked the residents of Malden to join him in helping create a better and brighter and future as he closed his address.
“There are 60,000 neighbors, friends, business owners, students, teachers, veterans, and residents of Malden standing with me. My greatest strength as mayor is the strength of this city,” Christenson concluded.
“I believe in Malden. I want us all to believe in Malden.”
Christenson was sworn into office by his father, Jeff, at the well-attended event held at Malden High School’s newly renovated Jenkins Auditorium on Monday evening.
A number of local and state officials attended the ceremony, including Malden’s own Congresman Ed Markey who the new Mayor had interned for 25 years ago. Markey said that Christenson had “spent his entire life getting ready to be the next great mayor of the City of Malden” when offering brief remarks.
The event also marked the end of an era as outgoing Mayor Richard Howard leaves his post after 16 years of service. He was praised throughout the evening for his hard work and dedication to creating a new era for the City of Malden, and offered brief remarks during the event.
“I have a feeling — although you can never know — that Gary is going to be a great mayor,” Howard said. “Thank you to the City of Malden for giving me this opportunity…”
Christenson entered public life when he was appointed to the Malden School Committee by Howard. The former Mayor will move on to become the town manager of Winchester later this month.
Along with Howard, Paul Condon offered brief remarks following his exit from the City Council after 26 years. Condon is the longest-serving councilor in the city’s history.
At-large Councilor Deborah Fallon, who lost to Christenson in November, did not appear on stage during the evening, and was mentioned only once during the proceedings.