With raised right hands, Amherst city council members swore Monday to execute the duties of their office in good faith.
Taking the oath for the first time was Matthew Nahorn, elected in November to represent the city’s fourth ward.
He was sworn in by his uncle and godfather, Vermilion Municipal Court judge Zack Dolyk, who appeared proud at the fore of the council chambers.
The ceremony also ushered in new Amherst auditor Derek Pittak, who spent his first day on the job Monday.
Pittak and the six incumbent council members were sworn in by Oberlin Municipal Court judge Thomas Januzzi.
An Amherst resident, Januzzi said he was gratified to be part of the proceedings. He also offered up a great deal of advice to officials in 2018.
“Local government is the backbone of our democracy,” he told council. “Most of the contact citizens have with elected officials is with local representatives, and this makes your position arguably the most important position in government. You’re on the front line – directly accountable to your constituents and most accessible.”
Listen to your constituents, he advised — all of them, whether you agree with or not. Display empathy for the people of your community. Show them you are listening by responding to them.
Stay current on local and regional issues that might affect the city, Januzzi said. Be willing to change your mind based on listening. Earn trust by being authentic.
Speak calmly and courteously to the public and to each other, because everyone deserves respect, he said. As the voice of the people, be well informed and do not accept hearsay as testimony.
Don’t jump to conclusions. Be fact-checkers. Give room to each other to disagree, knowing that all council members intend the best for the greater good.
Ask for help. Don’t let pride get in the way. Be humble, Januzzi said. Be team players. Be willing to admit you made a mistake. And accept your public service as a privilege.
In the first meeting of the year, council at-large Phil Van Treuren was designated president pro tempore, meaning he will lead meetings in the absence of council president Jennifer Wasilk.
Olga Sivinski was renewed as clerk of council.
Committees leadership was assigned: finance to Ed Cowger, building and lands and police and fire to Chuck Winiarski, streets to Van Treuren, community development and executive to Joe Miller, ordinance and technology to Brian Dembinski, utilities to David Janik, and recycling to Nahorn.
Due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the next Amherst council meeting will be held at 7 p.m.on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
Chief on the agenda will be discussion of sewer and roadway improvements to Lincoln Street and Sipple Avenue.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.