It was almost 90 minutes until Lovely Warren appeared at her own inaugural, and by then it was nearly anticlimactic. The mayor's entrance at stage right followed more than an hour of song and celebration welcoming Rochester's 67th, and first female, mayor.
The ceremony took place this afternoon at a stuffed-to-the-gills Auditorium Theatre. Rochester luminaries past and present were in attendance, including US Senator Chuck Schumer; Congress member Louise Slaughter; Lieutenant Governor and former Rochester mayor Bob Duffy; and members of City Council. Trailblazers from Rochester's past were there, too, in a nod to the history made by Warren's election. They included Constance Mitchell, the first woman and African American elected to the Monroe County Board of Supervisors.
Warren's mentor, state Assembly member David Gantt, gave the speech introducing Warren. He said that any notion that Warren would be a Gantt clone or that he talked her into running for mayor was bunk. He said he actually tried to talk Warren out of running, but her mind was made up.
"Nobody can tell Lovely what to do," he said.
Warren called Gantt her "mentor and father."
Today's ceremony was for the public. Warren was officially sworn in a few days ago in a private ceremony.
Warren's speech was a departure in tone from the cautious optimism often sounded by her predecessor, former mayor Tom Richards, and even by Duffy in the waning days of his administration. Both warned of the fundamental financial difficulties facing the city and how they threatened to undermine everything else the city hoped to accomplish.
Warren, instead, spoke generally about fighting to improve the city schools, to make city neighborhoods safe, to provide jobs and opportunities for city residents, and to continue the revitalization of downtown.
"This is a moment in time when things begin to change," she said. "It is my strong belief that we will turn promises into progress."
She singled out schools as her priority, although as mayor, she has little to say in the operation of the school district. Warren did promise in her campaign to create a schools-centered department in City Hall, but details of that have yet to be made public. Warren has also pledged to bring more high-quality charter schools to Rochester — a promise that some worry will further damage the city school district.
But if the lack of specifics bothered the crowd at the Auditorium Theatre today, it didn't show. The mood was exultant. Several speeches were interrupted by sustained applause and someone shouted "I love you!" when Warren finally took the podium.
Many speakers mentioned the excitement of the moment.
"Lovely is just the kind of person to help this city move forward," Schumer said.