Mayor Jack Blalock's Inaugural Speech 2018

January 2, 2018

Good evening, and happy New Year!

Welcome family, friends, neighbors, city councilors, police and fire commissioners, City Manager John Bohenko, City Clerk Kelli Barnaby, City staff and department heads, and all special guests.

I would like to thank Senator Maggie Hassan for her attendance and thoughtful words, as well as Cara Wry representing Senator Shaheen, Portsmouth's Fire and Police Honor Guards, and Wendell Purrington for their special participation in tonight's events.

It is an incredible honor to be here delivering my second inaugural speech as your mayor. It is also humbling to be validated by a community who endorses your leadership and the Council’s accomplishments. To be able to continue my tenure as Portsmouth’s mayor is a great privilege and duty that I take very seriously. Two years ago, I stood before you here and emphasized the importance of engaged civic participation.  I feel we accomplished this with a respectful, transparent process that engaged Portsmouth residents.

For example, we have witnessed tangible results and defined plans thanks to creative collaboration between the community, City Staff and City Council. The following developments keep the interests of our residents and local businesses at the forefront:

  • the Prescott Park Master Plan;
  • the Housing Committee and new zoning recommendations;
  • the new parking garage committee, construction of Foundry Place Garage and its nearby neighborhood improvements;
  • the Vaughan-Worth-Bridge Committee; and
  • the Business Retention and Expansion program.

We have been able to create forward motion on many long-awaited needs such as these in large part to residents offering their valuable input. Community involvement will be equally important in the future as this new City Council evaluates and determines the future of the McIntyre Federal Building.

It is also crucial for Portsmouth to not lose sight of the bigger picture and uphold certain values. I have always been proud of this City’s spirit; it is why I decided to never establish a home elsewhere; why I continued a business here and raised a family here. I am passionate about this City and proud to be referred to as “The People’s Mayor.”

In this past term, we have also witnessed unique and questionable decisions by our country’s administration regarding:

  • the Paris Climate agreement;
  • LGBTQ rights; and
  • Sanctuary cities – to name a few.

Not only as Mayor, but as a family man and citizen, it is important to me that all individuals in our community are welcome and treated equally, and that together we work continuously towards a healthier environment. In this past term I have vehemently expressed that this City will continue to:

  • uphold the standards of the Paris Climate agreement;
  • be a welcoming city to immigrants and others; and
  • host events such as Portsmouth PRIDE, and celebrate and encourage individuality.

This is another component of community involvement and a reason why we must remain outspoken, respectful and tuned in on a local level in order to maintain our integrity, as well as day-to-day amenities and comforts that we take for granted.

With that said, the work of this past City Council would not have been as successful if it didn’t include the participation of our vocal citizenry as well as the expertise provided by City Manager John Bohenko and City staff. We are very fortunate to have staff of this caliber that executes operations that ensure stability, sustainability and connectivity. In just two years we have witnessed many developments that include the:

  • maintenance of the City’s AAA bond rate;
  • start of constructing a second parking garage;
  • renovating our wastewater treatment plant;
  • renewal of the Market Street gateway;
  • installation of LED street lights citywide, and solar energy arrays at Portsmouth High School and Madbury Water Treatment Plant;
  • expansion of recycling and composting initiatives;
  • recreation improvements including new tennis courts, field lighting and dog park; and
  • introduction of a bike share program and plans for future public bike paths.

Over the years, we have also been fortunate to have loyal, ongoing service from City Councilors. In this new term, we say goodbye to four City Councilors who decided to step down. I would like to express my gratitude to Joshua Cyr, Brad Lown, Eric Spear and Jim Splaine. It was a pleasure to have Joshua Cyr on Council last term after many years of community involvement. We also say farewell to veterans of the Council:

  • Brad Lown, after four terms in Council;
  • Eric Spear, after five terms in Council including one as Mayor; and
  • Jim Splaine, after eight terms in Council, five of those as Assistant Mayor – who is by no means slowing down and will serve Portsmouth’s Police Commission.

Portsmouth is very fortunate to have such talented, dedicated citizens, and I know their commitment to service will continue in other roles.

I am very proud to welcome four new City Councilors, all who have become well known for their passion for Portsmouth and noticeable participation in City development. A big congratulations to our new Assistant Mayor Cliff Lazenby, returning Councilor Ned Raynolds and new Councilors Doug Roberts and Rick Becksted – and a warm welcome back to Councilors Nancy Pearson, Josh Denton, Chris Dwyer and Rebecca Perkins. I look forward to this new chapter of challenges and opportunities and I am eager to begin our work together.

I would like to close by thanking my wife Pam, my children Richard and Jaclyn, and my brother Jim and sister Janie for their unwavering support. Thank you again to everyone here for their support as well, and thank you to all community members for playing a role in what Portsmouth is today. I am honored to serve as Mayor for another term, collaborating with all of you to keep Portsmouth healthy and vibrant.