HAMMOND — Pete Panepinto was sworn in Tuesday as the 25th mayor in the 125-year-old history of the city of Hammond.
“Dreams do come true,” Panepinto said after outgoing mayor Mayson Foster administered the oath of office. “I have long wanted to be mayor of Hammond and tonight that dream is a reality.”
Panepinto succeeds Foster, who served as mayor for the past 12 years. Under the city charter, the mayor and members of the city council are limited to three four-year terms.
For the past several years, Panepinto has served as administrative assistant to Foster. Panepinto resigned that position when he announced his candidacy in July. He won the election in the primary on Nov. 6, defeating two challengers.
Inaugurated into council seats were Janice Carter Beard, Lemar Marshall, Johnny Blount, Michael Williams and Jason Hood. Carter is the only new member on the council. Blount, Hood and Williams are starting their third terms and Marshall is beginning his second term.
At the ceremony’s conclusion the council met briefly, electing Williams as council president for the coming year and Blount as vice-chairman.
In brief remarks to the council at his first meeting as mayor, Panepinto asked that council members refer all citizen complaints or problems to his office so he can better learn about problem areas in the city.
The council also agreed unanimously to retain the services of attorney Brad Stevens to assist in legal matters related to the Municipal Civil Service Board. City Attorney Andre Coudrain said that he had recommended that Stevens be hired to handle matters that sometimes involve a conflict of interest on Coudrain’s part.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was modified on Jan. 7, 2015. The original story reported that Hammond City Court Judge Grace Gassaway administered the oath of office to Pete Panepinto. In fact, outgoing mayor Mayson Foster administered the oath. Gasaway swore in some of the council members. The Advocate regrets the error.