Carol Elizabeth Owens
Malik D. Evans officially transitioned from being mayor-elect to become the city’s 71st mayor when he was sworn in on Jan. 1, 2022.
The city described the new mayor’s momentous event as follows: “At the stroke of midnight, Mayor Malik Evans, sworn in by his wife and eldest son, Cameron, signed his official oath of office card.”
According to the city, Evans also elected to share his moment with workers at the city’s Emergency Operations Center, where he thanked 911 workers for their service.
“The Emergency Operations Center does such an amazing job for Monroe County. I thought it was fitting that on my first day, I stop by and personally thank these frontline workers,” Evans said. “Thank you to our Director of Emergency Communications Department, Mike Cerretto, and his entire team for their tireless commitment to our city.”
Evans’ inaugural address carried a thematic focus coupled with a certain rhythmic cadence– reminiscent in such ways of speeches given by Dr. Martin King, Jr. and former president Barack Obama.
Here are some excerpts from Evans’ inaugural address to the community-at-large:
“Let today be the day that we say we can have public safety with the community at the center while also having accountability simultaneously.”
“Let today be the day that we reaffirm the preciousness of life and say that one homicide is too many and that violence and destruction must never be normalized.”
“Let today be the day that we provide jobs for any youth that wants one. This will be one of our best violence reduction strategies. Economic opportunity and public safety are linked, and we must say so.”
“Let today be the day that we redouble our efforts to ensure that our covid recovery plan leaves no one behind and that we use the resources we have received wisely and collaboratively.”
“Let today be the day that we redouble our efforts to ensure that homeownership is not some esoteric concept that we sit around and talk about but something that is a reality for those who seek it.”
“Let today be the day that we continue our work to transform Rochester not by nibbling at the edges but by thinking big and getting over the things that may not have worked in the past but imagining a place where we leverage our assets, and we work to take Rochester to the next level.”
“As we seek to transform our city now more than ever, we must tap into the power of our people in our neighborhoods. Let today be the day that an army of citizens stand together with me and city hall as your partner. Let’s usher in the ‘Rochester way’. We will take control of our neighborhoods and work to eradicate violence and blight.”
The new mayor spoke reflectively and fondly of his foundation-building childhood moments, saying, “I was raised in a neighborhood that when I walked to school, my neighbors such as Ms. Penny and Ms. Bailey would stand on the porch as I passed by with my siblings and our friends. We could play in our front yard, and we never worried about a car driving 80 miles per hour down the street. This sense of community helped raise me.”
He also talked about the humble and wholesome upbringing given to him by his parents, saying, “I come to the office of mayor understanding full well what can be — because of the blessings that my God and my late parents Gwen and Lawrance Evans provided for me. I was not born into means, there were no silver spoons in the Evans household, but there was faith and the belief that anything was possible, and that we should always keep the faith -even if it was as small as a mustard seed. If anyone has ever tried to find that seed, you will see that it is almost impossible to see.”
Evans took note of the importance of education from a wholistic and cooperative approach, saying, “We must commit to building a strong school system using the model of a three-legged stool, consisting of schools, community, and households working together. As your mayor, I am committed to doing my part-but change will only come by the broader community — led by parents and our school system working hand in glove.”
Video of the mayor’s full inauguration ceremony, including the full-text of his address is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJjldW_3QUA .