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Backus era begins: Mayor, three councilmembers sworn into office | SLIDESHOW

Passing it on: Mayor Nancy Backus holds the City flag after being sworn in as mayor during ceremonies at City Hall on Monday. From left are Police Officer Francesca Nix, Police Chief Bob Lee, and past mayor Pete Lewis.  - Rachel Ciampi/Auburn Reporter
Passing it on: Mayor Nancy Backus holds the City flag after being sworn in as mayor during ceremonies at City Hall on Monday. From left are Police Officer Francesca Nix, Police Chief Bob Lee, and past mayor Pete Lewis.
— image credit: Rachel Ciampi/Auburn Reporter

Yes, the times they are a changing.

On Monday a full chamber at Auburn City Hall welcomed not only the first female Auburn mayor in its 121-year history but also the first Hispanic woman ever elected to the City Council.

As the Auburn Police Department Honor Guard and Chief Bob Lee stood by to safeguard the orderly transition of power, Mayor-elect Nancy Backus raised her right hand and repeated the oath of office read by City Attorney Dan Heid.

"So help me God," Backus concluded, as sustained applause, cheers, and hoots and hollers rocked the council chamber.

Watching from the audience, Backus' husband Kemon, their daughter, Lucky, and Backus' mother, Mary.

Becoming mayor, said the Auburn native, a 1979 Auburn High School graduate, was her "dream come true."

"I have a goal of one Auburn, and that means we celebrate our similarities but also our differences," Backus said. "Because it's who we are individually and as a group that makes Auburn so unique. We are by far not the richest community around here, but we've got the biggest hearts of any community I've ever met.

"... Don't be surprised," Backus added, "when I pull you in and ask for your help. Don't run, because I promise it's going to be for great things for Auburn."

Backus edged former Councilman John Partridge in November's general election to win the office.

Seven-term councilmember and newly-minted Deputy Mayor Rich Wagner took the oath with newcomers Yolanda Trout and Claude DaCorsi.

Trout, the first Hispanic woman ever elected to the council, said being elected was the realization of her long-held dream, too.

She promised that her office door will be open to all constituents

"It's not just the Latino community I want to work with, I want to work for all of you ... I'll work with my City Councilmembers, they're totally awesome and I'm excited to be part of their group."

In the chamber, Trout's 83-year-old mother, who flew in from Yuma, Ariz., and other members of her large family.

Then it was DaCorsi's turn.

"I ran on the premise of being a servant leader, and serving is exactly what I intend to do," said DaCorsi, a director with the King County Housing Authority.

Wagner said Monday's turnout to hear the oaths of office was the largest of its kind he had seen in all of his years on the council and before.

"I think that this turnout of all these people shows that we all think we're going to do great things for the Auburn — that we've done great things in the past, and we'll do even greater things in the future," Wagner said.

Wagner said in the next four years he plans to concentrate on diversity.

"Diversity means a lot of things to me: it means age, it means wealth, it means ethnic background, it means religious preferences, it means lifestyle preferences. This city has a lot of advantages in that regard. Not only do we have a lot of diversity, I think we also know how to make the best use of it."

Wagner predicted that the future Community Center in Les Gove Park, on which construction is slated to begin in 2014 and which he has championed for five years, would be a key means of "exploiting" the City's diversity, and a tool for bringing people together.

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RACHEL CIAMPI SLIDESHOW:

 

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