Following is the text of the speech of County Council Chairman Peter A. Shapiro delivered Monday at the Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro after the nine council members were sworn in for four-year terms.
Thank you and good morning. Let me begin by acknowledging my five departing colleagues, as well as our outgoing county executive. I would ask you to include in your thoughts two who are not with us today: Mr. Gourdine and Mr. Maloney. Thanks to all of you for your service. Each of you made tremendous sacrifices and committed countless hours on behalf of the residents of Prince George's County. Again, please join with me in expressing our gratitude.
And now before you is a newly sworn-in council. Each of us here has reached this point because of the support of our families and friends and especially the confidence of the voters. Thank you, and I assure you that we will be tireless in our efforts to be worthy of your support and your trust.
In addition, it is my privilege to extend the congratulations of the legislative branch, to County Executive-elect Jack Johnson. Very shortly, Mr. Johnson, you will take the oath of office to become the sixth county executive of Prince George's County. We look forward to your leadership and we commit to working with you to further enhance the quality of life for all Prince Georgians.
Many of the tasks before the 10 of us are above our talents as individuals. Excellent schooling for over 130,000 students requires more than sound budget stewardship from the council and executive. It also demands the skill and passion of thousands of educators and other system employees, parents and other activists. Similarly, keeping streets safe requires more than the goodwill and good judgment of policymakers. Only if law enforcement professionals are able to work closely with residents and shop owners will peace prevail.
And lastly, our economic success, though clearly dependent on competent and creative leadership, will only continue with the undivided attention and involvement of the private sector along with nonprofit community organizations. We commit to bring every one of these resources to bear to solve our problems.
Four days ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving. Almost four hundred years ago, the pilgrim and soon-to-be first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, stood on the deck of the flagship Arbella, which had nearly completed its treacherous journey westward across the Atlantic. The year was 1630 and in anticipation and hope of reaching his destination safely, he preached the following to his shipmates: "Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck and to provide for our posterity is to follow the counsel of Micah: 'To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must make others' conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our community as members of the same body. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when 10 of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies. For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.' "
This is the first inauguration in Prince George's County in the official new millennium, and it is appropriate that the eyes of all people are upon us. We are "as a city upon a hill" as we elect the first majority African American county council in our history and continue as the wealthiest majority African American county in the nation.
We are "as a city upon a hill" as we lead the way for the state and the region in balancing the demand for quality new development with redevelopment and preservation of rural space. We are "as a city upon a hill" as we make the arts central to our redevelopment and school improvement strategies.
And finally and especially, we are "as a city upon a hill" as we recognize our diversity as our greatest treasure. We welcome and embrace the fastest-growing community of new immigrants -- Latino, Asian, Caribbean and African -- of any jurisdiction in the state of Maryland. On this day and in the days to come, the eyes of the people of the state, the region and the nation will truly be upon us in Prince George's County.
This County Council accepts its awesome responsibility. While in may ways our county shines upon that hill, we still face many challenges. But Prince George's County is vibrant, diverse, unified and 800,000-plus strong, and we are ready for the challenge. For bearing witness on this first day, as we raise our hands and pledge to serve the residents of this great county, I thank you.