Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered a resounding speech on the first day of his third term -- pledging to inscribe collaboration and innovation within the bedrock of city revitalization and to not leave anyone behind.
"The future starts here and it starts now and it starts with us," Bloomberg said before a cheering crowd.
Dressed sharply in a dark suit and chartreuse tie, the mayor began by paying homage to legendary civil-rights activist Percy Sutton and thanking everyone for giving him what he humbly referred to as a "special opportunity" in a third term.
The 67-year-old billionaire acknowledged the unusual circumstances that landed him on the steps of City Hall to take the oath of office for another four years. A city term-limit law had barred officeholders from seeking a third, consecutive term, but he orchestrated a last-minute law change that let him run again in 2009.
"This term is a special opportunity, one that comes with extraordinary responsibilities," Bloomberg said. "I realize, too, that the building behind me is yours, and the job in front of me is to listen and to lead. I will not shirk from the hard decisions that lay ahead."
The mayor scoffed at "conventional wisdom" that third-term politicians run out of energy and ideas or stagnate in their roles. Declaring he would prove such "wisdom" wrong as he has done many times before, an energetic Bloomberg promised that he would not rest until all New Yorkers had the quality of life that he and they envision for themselves and the city of New York.
"No matter who you love, who you worship, who you voted for, I pledge to be your mayor," Bloomberg said. "And I will not stop working for you, I will not rest until every job seeker finds work, every child graduates ... every family has an affordable home and every New Yorker with a dream finds it within reach."
Bloomberg spoke extensively on collaboration and innovation, on job creation, safety, entrepreneurship, strengthening communities and his plans to establish a bi-partisan coalition to support President Barack Obama's plan for comprehensive immigration reform.
"No city should hold those principles higher aloft than this city of immigrants because no city on earth has been more rewarded by immigrant labor, more rewarded by immigrant ideas, than New york City," Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg, who first assumed office in 2002, also promised a management shakeup like those he oversaw at his financial information company, Bloomberg LP. He says his deputy commissioners will work in city agencies for three-week periods to generate fresh ideas and that as in the private sector, he would take a hard-line approach to productivity that engineers meaningful, lasting results.
The mayor heads into a third term with a little less political capital and a changed City Hall landscape. Twelve of the City Council's 51 members are new and two citywide officials who took office Friday, Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, have warned they are not afraid to stand up to the mayor.
For his part, de Blasio pledged to work with the city planning commission to give citizens a bigger voice, involve parents more fully in their children's education, fight homelessness and elevate democracy to an even higher level through public engagement.
"My place will be an office where the people speak loudly ... a place that unlocks the mystery of government and refuses to stand by when a New Yorker could have been helped but wasn't," he said. "And in the instance where government fails, my office will be the place that demands accountability and change."
About 2,000 invited guests, given mugs of hot cider to stay warm during the outdoor program, watched Bloomberg, Liu and de Blasio take the oath of office.
When Bloomberg first said he wanted to run for a third term and planned to seek a change to the term-limit law, he argued that his financial expertise was needed for the city to get through the recession. But he barely mentioned the economy Friday, touching on it only by acknowledging "the hard times that exist around us'' and that many New Yorkers are struggling.
Liu noted in his speech that "economic misery cuts ever deeper into families across the city.''
The first Asian-American in citywide office also thanked his parents, who he said "could have had a lot in Taiwan but they gave everything up so their kids could grow up American.''
"I'm honored, I'm proud, I'm humbled," a jubilant Liu, who took the oath flanked by his wife and son, said. "I'll work every day to live up to the confidence and expectations that you have placed upon me."
The mayor, whose fortune is estimated at $17.5 billion by Forbes magazine, spent more than $102 million on his re-election campaign. But he clamped down on lavish spending for the inauguration, foregoing a traditional party and instead spending the day visiting people doing volunteer work throughout the city.