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From Streets of Harlem to Gracie Mansion For New NYC Mayor

January 1, 1990

Undated (AP) _ A new administration took command Monday in New York City with the inauguration of David Dinkins as the Big Apple’s 106th mayor, and its first black one.

″Today we travel another mile on freedom’s road,″ Dinkins said. ″I stand before you today as the elected leader of the greatest city of a great nation, to which my ancestors were brought, chained and whipped in the hold of a slave ship.″

Elsewhere, new mayors took their oaths of office in Cleveland, New Haven, Conn., and Yonkers, N.Y.

Dinkins dedicated his new administration to the city’s children.

″The measure of whether I fulfill my mandate will be how we treat those who start out life during my tenure,″ Dinkins told more than 10,000 people gathered outside City Hall to see him take a ceremonial oath of office. He was officially sworn in shortly after midnight.

Dinkins succeeded Edward I. Koch, the outspoken three-term mayor he defeated in the Democratic primary in September. Dinkins went on to beat Republican Rudolph Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney, by a narrow margin.

Dinkins, 62, just completed a term as Manhattan borough president.

Dinkins’ inaugural was a backdrop for protests by Jews over the presence of Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and by AIDS activists who oppose Cardinal John J. O’Connor, who gave the benediction.

Many Jews object to Tutu’s support for a Palestinian state, and AIDS activists oppose the Catholic church’s condemnation of homosexuality and its opposition to some kinds of AIDS education.

Dinkins said he wanted both men there because they are leaders and friends, even though, ″We’re not in synch on all things.″

Dinkins described his city as ″a gorgeous mosaic ... of race and religious faith, of national origin and sexual orientation - of individuals whose families arrived yesterday and generation ago, coming through Ellis Island, or Kennedy Airport, or on buses bound for the Port Authority (bus terminal).″

He admitted the city faces serious problems.

″I recognize ... that our’finances may get worse before they get better, that for now our dreams are bigger than our budget,″ he said. ″We must assure our long-term fiscal stability. We face difficult times ahead. And we will make the difficult choices.″

Dinkins’sent out 13,000 invitations, for two guests each, for the ceremony on the steps of City Hall. But only 8,000 chairs were set up. The overflow, including the public, had to stand.

Among the invited guests were about 50 homeless people, who showed up early and took seats up front.

″The mayor represents everybody,″ said Steven Riley of the United Homeless Organization. ″I think it’s great that he invited homeless people here.″

In Cleveland, former state Sen. Michael White pledged to fight crime, racism, homelessness, poor education and other city problems after taking the oath Monday to become Cleveland’s 54th mayor.

″We come together today at the dawn of a new decade ... at a time of challenge unlike any in recent memories,″ White said.

White, 38, a Democrat, later paid special tribute to his predecessor, Republican Mayor George Voinovich, and presented him with a key to the city.

Voinovich became mayor in November 1979 and has announced plans to run for governor this year.

In New Haven, former state Sen. John C. Daniels, the city’s first black mayorl vowed during his inauguration speech to find new ways to fight drugs, crime and a $3 million budget deficit.

″We must move - and I will move us - to a point at which the maximum number of citizens are involved in all our major decisions,″ said Daniels, a 53-year-old Democrat who replaced Biaggio DiLieto as mayor.

DiLieto, 67, who also is a Democrat, decided not to run for re-election after 10 years in office. Daniels is New Haven’s 48th mayor.

In Yonkers, Democrat-turned-Republican Henry Spallone stressed honesty and integrity in his inaugural speech. He offered conciliatory words on a federal housing desegregation plan that was key to his victory over one-term Mayor Nicholas Wasicsko, a Democrat.

Spallone, 63, a former police detective, was one of four city council members who balked at implementing U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand’s desegregation order. The four appealed a contempt citation to the U.S. Supreme Court, while Wasicsko supported the desegregation plan.

″We will abide by the decisions″ of the court, Spallone, the city’s 37th mayor, said of the plan. ″That is what law is about.″

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