Inaugural Address from Mayor Yadira Ramos-Herbert

Good afternoon and a sincere thank you to all of you for taking time out of the first day of the new year to come and celebrate this wonderful day in New Rochelle. Congratulations to each of the council members. What an honor we will have to represent our communities at the City Council table. I look forward to continuing to get to know you and to working with you. 

For me, I have to say today will be a core memory. It is the first time I can officially make remarks and greet an audience as the Mayor of New Rochelle! While it is going to take some time to get used to that honorific before my name, I don’t think I will soon forget the immense joy I feel in this moment. So THANK YOU!

Before I continue in English, I wanted to say a few words in Spanish. Soy hija y nieta de inmigrantes y estoy segura que cuando ellos dejaron a la Republic Dominicana y Puerto Rico no podían imaginar este día. Aunque mis abuelos ya no estan aquí, se que están en el cielo gritando: ahí está mi nieta. Y desde esta plataforma le quiero pedir a mis abuelos y a todos mis antepasados la bendicion.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to acknowledge the fact that I stand here as a daughter and granddaughter of immigrants. While I am confident when my grandparents left the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, they never imagined this day. I know that my grandparents are in heaven screaming, there goes my granddaughter. From this platform I would like to begin by asking my grandparents and all my ancestors for a blessing – la bendicion. 

What a blessing it is to have the chance to serve in our city government. Boston’s Mayor Michelle Wu once said “City government is special. We are the level closest to the people. Our people expect us to do the SMALL AND BIG THINGS.”  I stand here today knowing that our constituents/friends/neighbors are counting on us to do the small AND the big – to fill potholes AND complete the revitalization our downtown; to ensure steady trash pickup AND proactively tackle the impact of climate change; to ensure our parking signs are replaced AND to ensure affordability for all.

 Our city’s success and ability to do the SMALL AND BIG relies on collaborative governance one where residents, elected officials and our professional staff commit to working together for the possibility of producing an outcome greater than one that would be developed in a silo. I humbly stand before you committed to a collaborative leadership model where residents will feel more connected to their city, to identify our common ground/build consensus and to champion initiatives that will allow us to usher New Rochelle into its next chapter. A chapter that is inclusive, culturally rich, economically prosperous and safe. 

Finding common ground and consensus won’t always be easy. The council is made of 7 different people, we have hundreds of people who serve the city in city hall, and we are a city of 80,000 with a projection of reaching 100,000. Inherent in the phrase “finding” means tough conversations will need to happen and that there will be disagreements.  We all come with our own lived experiences and history both here in New Rochelle and beyond that shape our perspective and opinions. However, let me tell you I believe in the collective power of WE and not just any WE, I believe in the WE OF NEW RO STRONG – that we are stronger together than we are apart and that as long we keep our love of New Rochelle in the forefront, remember the love and respect we have for each other’s humanity and maybe offer the benefit of the doubt to each other once in a while we as a community can do the hard things necessary to provide our city with the SMALL AND BIG, to allow New Rochelle to meet its full and equitable potential. 

Before wrapping up it is imperative that I give a few thanks. It would simply be impossible to thank every person who helped bring me to this moment, but I must thank my parents for their love, sacrifices in raising me and modeling what hard work looks. 

To my incredible campaign team Melissa, Harry, Scott, Tyler, Alex, Kim, Eli and my pastor turned sister Denise. You are all so smart, so savvy and amazing thought partners who assured I stayed mission focused, no matter the curve ball(s) thrown my way. Thank you.

 To our Mayor and my friend Noam Bramson I thank you for friendship, leadership and commitment to our city. Thank you for seeing a future for me that I didn’t see for myself. I am humbled to follow in your footsteps. 

To Jeff, Julyssa and Tomas. The true MVPs of my life and heart. Jeff while pursuing your career and blazing your own pathways (only person of color to serve as General Counsel for a bank founded in 1863 and one of the few black men in our country to hold the position) you are my home and refuge. When the world is upside down, as long as I am with you, I am centered. I am so lucky to have your partnership while I still figure out what I want to be when I grow up. 

Julyssa and Tomas, you are both my north star – you continue to share Mami with New Rochelle and for that I am eternally grateful. As Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said: “I know it has not been easy as I have tried to navigate the challenges of juggling my career and motherhood. And I fully admit that I did not always get the balance right. But I hope that you have seen that with hard work, determination, and love, it can be done.” I love you both with you my whole heart. 

As an Afro-Latina, I know I owe my ability to stand here is due to the amazing New Rochelle champions of equity who overhauled the New Rochelle electoral system in the 90s to ensure representation. I stand on the shoulders of incredible giants, and I thank them for their bravery in fighting for representation and in a twist to what our VP said – I may be the first BUT we will make sure I am not the last.

There are so many others, my sister, in-laws, extended family, nieces, nephews, my committee co-chairs Dale and Rhiannon, our county chair Suzanne Berger, my tremendous network of supporters, volunteers, friends both new and old. Faith leaders from across so many of our wonderful houses of worship. My own church family. Our amazing non-profits. The women in my life, the elected women in my life, the black and Latina elected women in my life who provide immediate sisterhood – ALL of my friends in labor movement!! Each of you provided wisdom, strength, time, guidance, prayers and words of encouragement. We did this together and I know together we can do so much more. 

In closing, I am committed to representing all of New Rochelle whether you voted for me or not. To model a leadership style where all feel represented and heard. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work with my council colleagues, our city manager Kathleen Gill, the City’s professional team, all of collegues and friends in government and neighbors.  May God continue to bless each of us and guide us on the right path. Thank you, Gracias and Happy New Year.