The newest member of the Common Council told 200 well-wishers Friday he believes Buffalo is moving forward, but that leaders must focus on housing, education and strengthening neighborhood businesses.
Michael P. Kearns, who is known as Mickey, was sworn in during ceremonies in Council Chambers. Voters in the South District elected him to fill the unexpired term of James D. Griffin. The former mayor added yet another twist to his unpredictable career when he resigned his Council seat in March after serving only 15 months of a four-year term.
Griffin attended Kearns' inauguration, as did former South District lawmakers Mary M. Martino and Dennis Manley.
Kearns recalled that it was six years ago this week that he left City Hall after serving as Manley's legislative aide. Kearns, 36, has been working as a fund-raising consultant to non-profit groups.
Shortly after Griffin's resignation, the Council followed the recommendation of Democratic leaders in South Buffalo and appointed Jeffrey M. Conrad to the seat. But Kearns defeated Conrad in the Democratic primary and in the November election.
City Judge Kevin J. Keane administered the oath of office to Kearns, who was joined by his wife, Erin, young daughter and parents. Kearns said it was fitting that an energetic chorus from Discovery School 67 belted out a song called "A Brand New Day" a few minutes earlier.
"Change is good sometimes," said Kearns, who has pledged to champion new strategies for promoting home ownership and assist neighborhood commercial districts.
He lauded the nine-member Council, which has not seen the brand of acrimonious infighting that was a trademark of some past Councils.
"We have a very cohesive, unified [Council]. People are very friendly," said Kearns.
He paused, then caused the crowd to erupt in laughter when he added: "for the time being."