MANCHESTER — Mayor Ted Gatsas laid out his priorities for the new year as he and the city's other elected officials were sworn in Tuesday at the inaugural ceremony.
At the top of that agenda is addressing the city's crime problem, which Gatsas called "paramount to moving our city forward."
The inauguration was held at the Palace Theatre. Sharing the stage with the 30 elected officials were Gov. Maggie Hassan and four former city mayors: Frank Guinta, Robert Baines, Sylvio Dupuis and Ray Wieczorek, who administered Gatsas' oath of office.
Gatsas began his speech by highlighting what he said were signs of progress in the city, such as new construction and expansion along south Elm Street downtown and in the Millyard.
But Gatsas quickly pivoted to crime, which was a central issue in the hard-fought election campaign. Referring to rising robberies and break-ins, Gatsas said Police Chief David Mara would be presenting a plan at the next aldermen's meeting aimed at stopping "the trend once and for all."
"When I look forward, I see the solution including more officers in our neighborhoods, dedicated downtown foot patrols and strengthened community watch groups," Gatsas said in his speech.
Mara has advocated hiring more police officers, however, the mayor, who is crafting the budget for the next fiscal year, has indicated that even maintaining city services will prove financially challenging.
The city had nearly 300 burglaries in 2013, a significant increase from the two prior years.
Police have reported two alarming break-ins since Saturday, in which armed intruders forced their way into homes and threatened the residents.
In his inaugural address, Gatsas also stressed education reform, proposing to extend a Granite United Way program, Reading Plus, throughout the district.
"In 18 weeks, students enrolled in Reading Plus jump two grade levels," he said, adding, "Reading is the key building block for all success in life... If we commit to this investment at the elementary level, I am confident we will see students' aptitude increase and test scores rise."
In addition, Gatsas said the city will develop innovative strategies to boost the city's economy, including the development of a mobile app that will be a "must-have for city residents, families outside our city, visitors and business professionals."
Gatsas concluded his speech by calling on his fellow elected officials to maintain the spirit of decorum and unity displayed at the ceremony.
"For many of us, myself included, there will be uneasy moments where we will want to fall back to the standard of today," he said. "But my sincere hope is that we will leave here today looking forward and agree to raise our standards of both professionalism and performance."
Besides the mayor, the 28 members of the boards of aldermen and school committee were sworn in, as was Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau.
Following the inauguration, the aldermen and school board held their organizational meetings, when committee assignments were made and rules of order were adopted.