SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It was a big day for the city of Savannah.
The new year will started off with an almost complete change of leadership. Mayor Van Johnson was inaugurated Thursday night along with eight council members, seven of them new.
You can watch the full inauguration ceremony below:
Mayor Johnson officially received his new title on Wednesday, Jan. 1, during an Emancipation Proclamation service at St. Philip AME Church ahead of Thursday’s inauguration. By state law, all cities in Georgia must officially swear in a new mayor on the first day of the year.
Johnson is the 67th mayor of Savannah but is no stranger to politics. He has spent the last 16 years working in local government. He says the last few weeks have been busy with reestablishing relationships and getting the new city council members up to date.
“We’ve already had an orientation for the new city council members. They got together to learn city government 101. We will continue that work now in the new year as a public body. So again, this is about building collective and individual relationships,” said Johnson.
A few of the attendees waiting in line to get into the Johnny Mercer Theater weighed in on why they felt it was important to show up for the inauguration.
“We have people who complain about the government, what things are happening, where things are not happening...a lot of it is because we don’t participate,” said Ray Christie. “This is a public event, we’ve had an election, the people have spoken and we need to witness this change and what’s going on in our city.”
Inside the theater, one by one, all eight aldermen and alderwomen were sworn in, surrounded by family as they took the oath.
“You have people that are willing to serve, and able to serve. Work with them...pray for them...talk to them,” said Mayor Johnson of his fellow council members.
Mayor Van Johnson then took his oath in front of the crowd, and delivered his inaugural speech.
During a portion of his speech Mayor Johnson focused in on his message of inclusion, saying how all need to have the opportunity to come to the table to be a part of the City government.
“And this table of Savannah is going to be re-defined. This table of Savannah is going to stand on legs named trust, transparency, accountability and inclusion. If we are transparent in our operations and dealings, if we’re accountable to you who sent us here, if we remember that it’s not about us, it’s about you...if we can include people in our collective conversation...we will give you a reason to trust us," said Mayor Johnson.
The 139th Savannah City Council will have it’s first official city meeting January 16th.