November 12, 2013

Text of Mayor Ken Cockayne's Inaugural Address

As prepared for delivery on Monday, Nov. 11 at Chippens Hill Middle School in Bristol, Conn.:

Today marks the day of the year that Americans from all walks of life come together to honor the brave men and women who have served our nation in military service. 
 These soldiers have dedicated their lives to protecting the freedoms we enjoy as Americans – including the freedom to vote which we are here to celebrate tonight.
I would like every Veteran or active member of our military in the audience tonight to please sta
Mayor Cockayne prepares to deliver speech.
nd and I ask that you join me in a round of applause for their service to our nation.
Speaking of Veterans I would be remiss if I didn’t pay my respects to the man who preceded me in this job.  
Art Ward has spent the last 28 years in city government working to make our community a better place.  
We may not have always agreed on policy issues; however after serving with him for six years on the City Council I have grown to respect him as a person.
 I believe that our city owes him as well as his wife Pat; and their family a huge debt of gratitude.
Thank you - Mayor Ward for your service.

I would also like to thank Senator Jason Welch for agreeing to be the Master of Ceremonies for tonight’s festivities. 
Senator Welch has been an advocate for the taxpayer on the state level and along with the other members of our local legislative delegation will be working diligently together to move Bristol’s Legislative priorities forward.
One of the greatest strength’s we have in Bristol is that we put the emphasis on family and as I mentioned during the campaign I am a fourth generation Bristolite. 
My parents Bruce and Marion Cockayne instilled in my siblings and me from our early years, the importance of family, faith and community.
I would like to recognize my parents, Bruce and Marion as well as my brother and sisters, Chuck, Carrie and Cindy.
During the course of my life I have had many titles and there has been no title more rewarding than the title of Dad.
My son, Kenny Jr. is a middle school student at West Bristol. He has had to endure and bear the brunt of my political involvement over the past six years. 
Kenny is the reason I jumped into politics; because I was concerned about the future of our city and his future as well.
I have said many times that I want my son to go to college and then come home to Bristol to live, work and raise his family. 
Far too many grandparents are visiting their children and grandchildren either out of state or on Skype because they have left Bristol.
Kenny I am proud of the young man you have become. 
Last Tuesday night, the voters of Bristol gave me not only the opportunity to serve them, but gave me a new title as well: Mayor.  
I pledge to be the type of Mayor that my son and all of you can be proud of.

Speaking of titles I have another one that I wouldn’t dream of forgetting and that is FiancĂ©. 
10 years ago, I met a woman who swept me away, and after 10 years nothing has changed. 
While the wedding date hasn’t been decided… yet, I owe Brenda not only my love but my heartfelt gratitude for standing by my side during my political career.
I can’t wait until the day I call you my wife.

To the members of my administration I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to your posts in city government. 
 I recently penned an opinion piece in the newspaper thanking the people of Bristol for entrusting our city to me and I pledged to them that we will work diligently to get something done for the taxpayers of this city.
We will accomplish this as a legislative body and not as a political party.  
We are no longer Republicans or Democrats; rather we are elected officials; elected to govern and I hope that you will join me in working together for the betterment of Bristol.

The phrase “Bristol is at a crossroads” has been used in many political campaigns. 
 It seems like every two years a candidate for public office adopts this slogan.
I choose not to use such a negative slogan; instead I wanted to focus on the positive things that are happening in our community.
Downtown Revitalization is a key component to the future economic development of Bristol.  

For the past six years, I have served as a member of the Bristol Downtown Development Corporation which is charged with developing the 17 acre parcel formally known as the Bristol Centre Mall.
After much consideration, the BDDC has chosen a group called Renaissance Downtowns to lead this effort and soon will be breaking ground on phase one of the downtown project.
I share everyone’s frustration that it has taken almost nine years to see this project begin, but a lot has happened in those nine years and we are now ready to proceed with its development.
The biggest success so far with the downtown project has been the birth of an organization called: Bristol Rising. 
 I love their orange shirts.
These community volunteers embody what Bristol is all about and that is summed up in one word: Community.
They have been active over the past few years in pop-up piazzas and cash mobs all designed to promote our community and our local businesses. 
 Their active involvement in our community needs to be recognized because it has shed a positive light on Bristol and its economy.
A major component of my goal to hold the line on taxes relies not only on downtown redevelopment, but the success of our new marketing task force as well as the development of the Southeast Industrial Park.

I welcome the input of any member of my administration, as well as the public, in order to meet this goal and help increase our grand list by bringing businesses and jobs to our community.

We should be working together to promote Bristol and I extend my hand tonight to the people of Bristol who may not have supported me for Mayor and I pledge to work across party lines to get things done for Bristol

We are a community that was built on faith, family and volunteerism. 
I am asking any Bristol resident who has an interest to serve on a Board or Commission to please supply my office with your resume or summary of your background and a letter expressing; in which area you would like to serve; and I will do my best to accommodate your request.  
We are always seeking residents who would like to give back to their community and volunteer.

On the subject of volunteering, during the course of the campaign, I proposed two ordinance changes aimed at helping our elderly residents.
The first was a $500 tax credit to those residents 62 and older who volunteer in a specified entity. 
 This proposal doesn’t “force” any senior to volunteer; instead it rewards those who do.
I hope that the committee will take up the proposal as soon as they meet.
The second proposal was an Elderly Tax Freeze for residents 65 and older.  

The narrative of this tax freeze is to provide our elderly homeowners, who are struggling, that may mean they can stay in their homes.
This program will be administered by the City of Bristol and not the state of Connecticut and it would freeze their property taxes at current levels.
These two proposals have been adopted in other Connecticut communities as well as other states.
 If they can work in other communities than why can’t they work here in Bristol?
I believe that these creative ideas can work right here in Bristol
During my door to door campaign for this office, I talked with several elderly residents, some with tears in their eyes worried about what the future holds for them; if they will be able to afford to live in the same home where they raised their children.

I believe as an elected official and now as your Mayor, I have a responsibility to do everything in my power to try to give the people of our community; who made our city the great city it is - the peace of mind of knowing that we care.
I will be asking the members of the new Ordinance Committee to give these proposals consideration and I ask the members of the public who may have an idea which might make them better to come forward and offer your input.
Each proposal doesn’t have to be adopted the way I proposed them and I am open to comprise in order to make them the law of the land.

Much has been said about blight in Bristol. 
 Numbers have been thrown around and debated over the past few months.  In the end we can agree on one thing: 
“We still have work to do.”
The West End Association a group that I was active in forming; came before the City Council and presented a proposal to help revitalize the West End of Bristol.
I pledge to them that my administration will give that proposal a fair hearing and I invite any other group to do the same thing. 
 I have already asked for a meeting of our legislative delegation to discuss the re-alignment of the Route 72 intersection in the West End and how we can secure funding for this project.
I am ready to hit the ground running on this issue because it is near and dear to me and our community.  
As we discuss the West End we also need to bear in mind and keep our focus on the historic agreement that was made with other communities to preserve the Pequabuck River which has to be a vital part of our plans.
The West End Study Committee calls for bike and walking trails along the Pequabuck and I wholeheartedly support establishing them.
These issues I have mentioned are but a few we will face. The one fact that we can agree on is that there is much work to do and the time for talking has ended.  It is now time to roll up our sleeves and get to it. 
 The voters of Bristol have spoken and have elected the men and women on this stage to lead them for the next two years.
It is my hope that we will do this as individuals dedicated to the belief that we all want what is best for Bristol.
 My goal is to leave this place a better place than I found it.
I want our community to be a place where people flock to work, live and raise their families. 
 I hope that there will be more families that will soon call themselves a fourth generation Bristolite.
I am humbled by the support the voters have given me. 
 I pledge to do the best job I can as your Mayor by being honest, forthright and transparent.

As with my six years as a member of your City Council, you may not always agree with my position on an issue, however; you will always know where I stand on that issue.
Public service is a noble cause; it should not be a profession.
 I will use this opportunity to bring Bristol to new heights and I am hopeful that we, the people on stage with me tonight, 
 those of you who took the time to come here tonight 
as well as everyone that calls Bristol home 
will join me in this endeavor.
May God bless you, your family and the place we call home: The City of Bristol.
Thank you and good night.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

No comments: