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Potter assumes mantle at upbeat inauguration

New mayor touches on issues: meth crisis, schools, homelessness

In his first public remarks as mayor of Portland, Tom Potter promised an audience of 400 on Monday morning that 'citizens will be at the heart of every decision and action that shapes our city.'

Describing how coal miners once used canaries to warn them of dangers in the coal mines, Potter said: 'Our children have now become the canaries in our coal mines. They're warning us that we've forgotten the basic laws of humanity.'

Potter briefly mentioned a few of the community's challenges ahead: the methamphetamine crisis, working with schools to improve education and ending homelessness. 'The challenge is ours together,' he said shortly after taking his oath of office during an hourlong ceremonial inauguration. 'I love you, Portland. É I work for you.'

Family members and a diverse crowd of supporters gathered at Southeast Portland's David Douglas High School, enjoying a program that included performances by the Northwest Indian Veterans Association Honor Guard and the Jefferson Dancers.

Vera Katz received a standing ovation for her three terms as mayor and kudos from Potter and her fellow City Council members.

She encouraged citizens to be involved in city government, even if they don't agree with the issues. 'Being mayor of Portland is a huge job,' Katz said. 'You can't do it alone. É It's Tom's turn now to bring forward his own ideas and go his own way.'

As for herself, 71-year-old Katz said she 'exhaled at 12:01' Saturday morning after her term as mayor was up when Potter officially took office in a private event.

City Commissioner Sam Adams took his oath of office Monday afternoon at a ceremony at Portland State University. 'I feel like I've been talking and talking and talking for 16 months,' he said. 'I finally get to go to work. I'm absolutely thrilled and honored.'

Potter's supporters glowed as they watched the inauguration of the man they helped elect.

Alameda resident Janet Nokes said she was drawn to Potter's campaign after hearing him and his wife speak at various events on the campaign trail. Finding him to be a good listener, she donated $25 Ñ Potter's own contribution limit Ñ and signed up to volunteer.

'People with big money give money,' Nokes said. 'People with $25 give their time and their spirit, and that's how we made the difference.'