Atlanta, Cleveland inaugurate female mayors; Boston mayor begins third term

Monday, January 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Atlanta and Cleveland swore in their first female mayors Monday, as Boston marked the return of a two-term mayor.

Former Atlanta city administrator Shirley Franklin, who is also the only black woman leading a major American city, was inaugurated Monday, while Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jane Campbell took over Cleveland's highest office.

Both take the helm of cities that face hard fiscal decisions in the coming year, balancing shrinking budgets with growing demands for terrorism preparedness and concerns over public health.

``The role of the mayor has changed and the job description has changed, because of the historical nature of Sept. 11,'' said Tom Cochran, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. ``Boom, this happened, and now it's a totally different job.''

In Atlanta, Franklin will tackle a projected $45 million budget shortfall and she succeeds an administration now under federal investigation for corruption. Even before her inauguration, she fired 60 city employees hired as political appointees.

``I proudly represent all the women who have worked in the fields, toiled in the kitchen, fought for our rights and challenged our society,'' Franklin, 56, said in her inaugural address.

In Cleveland, Campbell, 48, succeeds Mayor Michael R. White, whose 12-year tenure saw the re-emergence of the Browns football franchise and a downtown renaissance, as well as repeated clashes with the city council and the police patrol union.

Campbell takes over as Cleveland-based LTV Steel, once the nation's third-largest integrated steel producer, prepares for a possible shutdown, which would leave thousands jobless and cripple the local economy.

``Today, our journey begins. The destination of that journey depends upon our capacity to put aside differences and to live beyond petty hurts and prejudices. Let reconciliation be the hallmark of this administration,'' Campbell said.

Thomas Menino took the reins of Massachusetts' largest city, pledging to spend his third full term boosting public safety, improving schools and increasing housing opportunities in Boston.

Menino, 59, criticized federal and state tax cuts in his inaugural address and said in the wake of the terrorist attacks, protecting residents has become his top priority.

``The citizen's first line of defense is your municipal government,'' Menino said.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick capped a week of inaugural events by touring city nightclubs Saturday night and attending a prayer service Sunday.

The 31-year-old former state legislator inherits a city that has a budget deficit, a police department under federal scrutiny, and basic city services such as lighting that many residents describe as dismal.

``There is nothing left to do but go to work,'' Kilpatrick said during the Sunday service. ``It's going to take all of us not sitting on the couch and wasting our time.''

Other mayors inaugurated Monday include York, Pa., Mayor John Brenner, who takes over from Charlie Robertson. Robertson was charged last year in the shooting death of a black woman during 1969 race riots.

With their swearing-in, Franklin and Campbell bring the total number of women currently serving as mayors in the nation's 50 largest cities to nine, according to the National League of Cities.

Of the 10 largest cities in the country, only six have ever elected a female mayor _ Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio and San Diego.