Speeches

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Administration of Mayoral Oath for Newton Falls Mayor-Elect Kenneth Kline
Jan. 1, 2020

(Remarks prepared for delivery on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2020, at the First Church of God in Newton Falls, Ohio)

Thank you, Mister Morrow, for that introduction.

It’s so nice to be here in Newton Falls.

Happy New Year, everyone!

It’s always an honor for me to be asked to speak at occasions like this.

This is a day when Newton Falls will start a new chapter in its leadership.

As Chief Justice, I have been asked many, many times to swear in citizens who have been called upon to assume the responsibility of civic leadership.

After all, as Americans we truly are a nation Of the People.

We govern ourselves.

Oaths of office may seem similar and repetitive – and ceremonial.

They are all of those things, of course.

Yet, they are so much more.

Administering an oath of office is a solemn duty that I take very seriously.

Oaths are an echo of our federal and state constitutions.

My role in giving an oath is always solemn.

So, too, are the repeated words of the public official who is making the pledge.

An oath of office is an echo of the powerful thoughts of our Founders.

The words are few. And that is part of their power.

An oath is a commitment to the ideals that our Founders forged into law.

An oath also communicates understanding of obedience to the law and to the promises of the public office being filled.

The oath today is being made in public, before family, friends and colleagues, and that brings to all of us a special level of affirmation.

Oaths also are a reminder of the call to public service that many of us hear.

It is a duty sought out by the person in order to serve.

While we appreciate those we elect, We all know that it is too easy for some to criticize those who choose to serve their fellow citizens.

Criticism of public officials has risen to unprecedented levels … and rather than offer constructive criticism, which is helpful, the pattern has been to offer destructive criticism, which is of no value to anyone.

We should never forget that we need solid, thoughtful public servants at all levels of government today.

We have always had that need in America and I believe today – more than ever before – we need good citizens to answer that call.

When a citizen assumes public office, he or she learns quickly what it takes to be a good leader.

I like to think that great leaders lead by example.

They also lead by listening.

I know, Mayor-elect Kline, that you served as a pastor.

So, you know how to lead, and that’s probably why you were elected to be the new mayor of Newton Falls.

Yet, believe it or not, your education as a politician has just begun, in some respects.

I say that because there are always surprises awaiting public officials.

I was lucky at times to have knowledgeable colleagues and mentors to help guide me, or challenge my thinking in positive ways.

At other times, I had to rely on my own focused thinking to work my way through a problem -- on behalf of the people who elected me.

Yes, you will have challenging days and good days.

And you will compile a whole lot of lessons that you can apply to your new office.

You’ll also be blessed with lessons you can pass along as a mentor to others as the years go on.

So, cherish the political process. Embrace it. Make it work for you and for your constituents.

And, while you’re doing it, lean on your staff and give them credit when it is due.

So, once again, it all starts with an oath.

In a few minutes, you will be Mayor, and I wish you the best.

By raising your right hand this morning and taking the oath you will be bound to the duties of your office and the service of your fellow citizens.

I join your family, friends, and Newton Falls residents in welcoming you as the mayor of Newton Falls.

Thank you, and God bless.

I will now administer the oath.