Mayor-President Kip Holden vowed Friday to work with the Metro Council to improve East Baton Rouge Parish during his third term in office.
“We started out in 2004 anxious to prove these dreams could be come reality,” Holden said during a swearing-in ceremony held Friday at the River Center. “Now the challenge we face is to sustain the momentum we have built to keep moving East Baton Rouge Parish forward.”
Holden, who at times in the past had a rocky relationship with members of the Metro Council, said he and other parish leaders must work to end divisions within the city parish.
“We have a new Metro Council sworn in this week,” Holden said. “I look forward to working with them, I can feel the new attitude in the air.”
The Metro Council, with eight returning and four new members, was sworn in Wednesday.
The new attitude of cooperation “will translate from talk into action,” Holden vowed.
“Jointly, we made a pledge to move East Baton Rouge Parish forward,” he said.
Holden won re-election in November, soundly defeating Metro Councilman Mike Walker, who was term limited on the Metro Council.
The ceremony held Friday was part of a daylong series of events to celebrate Holden’s re-election to the mayor’s post. Though Holden took an oath of office administered by U.S. District Judge James J. Brady, it was not official. Holden officially took the oath of office moments after midnight Tuesday to prevent the city from being without a top executive after his second term ended at the end of 2012.
Holden choked up early in Friday’s ceremony when he introduced his older brother, Curtis Holden, who Holden said had suffered two strokes and is wheelchair bound.
“It was emotional because you watch somebody go from so full of life to a wheelchair,” Holden said afterward.
The ceremony also featured a video that recounted Holden’s journey from childhood in Scotlandville to the Mayor’s Office.
“This program reflected more of a community spirit,” he said, comparing to his first two swearing-in ceremonies.
During his speech, Holden thanked those who had served as surrogate mothers and fathers for him growing up, as well as singling out Hillar Moore Jr. as someone who had a great impact on the community.
“Sometimes I feel like I am the luckiest man alive,” Holden said, referring to his contact with each of those men. “How could I not?”
The 110-minute program featured short speeches by former LSU basketball coach Dale Brown, the Rev. Raymond Jetson, Raising Canes founder Todd Graves and others as well as songs by the Northeast High School Show Choir, the Cherubim Choir from Greater King David Baptist Church, Randy Knaps, Tear Walker and the Inaugural Chorale.
Kip’s re-election was “an extraordinary achievement for Kip and for our city,” Brown said.
“You have stood the test of time,” Brown said, addressing Holden.
Graves said he admired Holden’s efforts on behalf of charities and nonprofits.
The swearing-in ceremony was the second of three events in Holden’s inaugural celebration. The first, an interfaith service, was held Friday morning at St. Joseph’s Cathedral downtown. A formal reception was scheduled for Friday night.
During the interfaith service, leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations in the city prayed for and blessed Holden and his family.
“I am truly humbled by the support of the people of East Baton Rouge Parish,” Holden said, after thanking his wife, Lois, and other family members.
Holden did not outline any specific plans for the new year, but said he would make those clear when he delivers his annual “State of the Parish” address Wednesday to the Baton Rouge Rotary Club.