By NewsChannel 5 and Out & About Newspaper

Karl Dean has been sworn in as Nashville 's sixth mayor, taking over for outgoing Mayor Bill Purcell.

The swearing-in ceremony took place Friday at noon on the Public Square at the Metro Courthouse.

New members of the Metropolitan City Council were also sworn into office. Keith Durbin was amoung those sworn in as a new council member, representing the people of District 18. Durbin is Tennessee’s first elected openly-gay official.

“I'm thrilled to have earned the opportunity to represent the people in District 18,” Durbin said. “I don't view myself as a major gay activist, but I do believe this victory shows that an out person in Nashville can gain the experience, nurture the relationships, and be thought by the voters as a person capable of handling the responsibilities of elected office. What I really feel is pressure to do my best, for all of Nashville.”

Nashville's first female Vice Mayor, Diane Neighbors, was also sworn in.

"To Mayor Dean, who has just had a fantastic victory and he fought the battle for all the issues that are important to us - I look forward working with you and helping you to achieve your goals in the coming years," Neighbors said.

After officially taking the helm of the city, Mayor Dean thanked his predecessor, Bill Purcell for his eight years of leadership.

 "Before we set our sights on the next four years I think it's important that we all pause for a moment and say thank you to Mayor Purcell and his staff," said Dean. "The legacy Mayor Purcell leaves behind includes a renewed focus on neighborhoods, and vast capitol improvement in our schools."

Mayor Dean recognized Purcell for his efforts to create green space at the Public Square. The square was dedicated October 2006.

"Another past of this legacy includes where we are today. This public square - which I consider to be one of the most beautiful green spaces we have downtown - is here because of the leadership of Mayor Purcell," said Dean.

The mayor also acknowledged new Vice Mayor Neighbors and the members of the Metro Council.

"I also want to say thank you and congratulations to our new vice mayor Diane Neighbors and each of the 40 individuals who have been elected to the Metro Council. I look forward to working with you in the weeks and months ahead," said Dean.

Dean's campaign and vision for the city was symbolized by bridges - a theme he continued in his first speech as mayor.

"Today we have the opportunity for a fresh start. I am reaching out to the people who voted for me, the people who voted for someone else, members of the council, and leaders in our satellite cities and asking that we build a bridge between ourselves to move our great city forward together," Dean said.

"Nine months ago almost to the day I stood on the Shelby Street Bridge and announced I was running for mayor," he said. "It is a bridge that was built at the turn of the 20th century and was meant for horses and buggies. It later evolved into a bridge for automobiles, and now stands today as a walking bridge, which when lit up at night I believe is one of the prettiest things in our city. To me it is a symbol of how we can progress and still protect and preserve what's more important to us."

Dean reflected on the campaign and progress of Nashville with optimism.

"It wasn't just that overall it was a very positive experience - it was that during the course of this campaign the basic issues that each of us held up as the things that are most important to this community were the same - public schools, public safety, and economic growth," he said.

"What's remarkable is that this didn't happen because somebody said it first and then everybody else decided to say it, too. It happened because over the years as the ebb and flow of public discourse has continued, a true consensus has developed across this community about what is important to the city. We have come to an agreement about our priorities. These are not the only things we have to do, but they are the most important," Mayor Dean said.

Contemporary Christian artist Jaci Velasquez and recent County Music Hall of Fame inductee Vince Gill performed during the ceremony.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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