O'Connor Becomes 31st S.D. Mayor

July 08, 1986|DANIEL M. WEINTRAUB | Times Staff Writer

Calling on her fellow citizens to "keep the spirit of San Diego alive," Maureen O'Connor was sworn in Monday as the city's 31st mayor.

"As your new mayor, I ask for your patience," O'Connor, the first woman to hold the city's top elected post, told a crowd of about 3,500 gathered at the B Street Pier downtown. "I ask for your help. And I ask that you imagine with me what San Diego's future might be. Whatever we imagine is possible."

O'Connor, 39, took the oath of office from state Court of Appeal Justice Edward T. Butler at 6:40 p.m. as a cool, stiff wind swept over the pier at the foot of the San Diego skyline.

"We face an awesome task of hanging on to our small-town virtues while moving San Diego into its rightful stature as an international metropolitan city," she said.

In her six-minute, 500-word inaugural address, O'Connor barely mentioned the issues on which she had campaigned against City Councilman Bill Cleator, whom she defeated June 3 in a race to serve the final 2 1/2 years of the term of former Mayor Roger Hedgecock. Hedgecock resigned last year after he was convicted of funneling thousands of dollars of illegal contributions into his 1983 campaign for mayor, when he beat O'Connor.

"I am proud to stand before you as the granddaughter of a coal miner, a daughter of a prizefighter, and a native daughter--the first woman mayor of San Diego," O'Connor said to a round of applause from what was for the most part a subdued audience.

Praising the city's climate and its educational, business, cultural and athletic institutions, O'Connor said that each "keeps the spirit of San Diego alive."

"The spirit must stay alive," she said. "Alive with imagination to resolve our financial predicaments. Alive enough with courage to grapple with our growth. And alive enough with an appetite for adventure to pursue trade with the Pacific Rim."

In an interview earlier Monday, O'Connor, who served two four-year terms on the City Council, said she would not use the inaugural speech to set an agenda for her short term as mayor because the issues the city faces were discussed enough during the six-month campaign.

"Everyone knows those issues and my positions on specific issues," she said.

Instead, O'Connor said she wanted her swearing-in to be a public celebration symbolizing what she has repeatedly promised will be an "open Administration."

"I'm trying to open up my Administration, and I want the community to participate in government, and this is the first step," O'Connor said in the interview. The evening ceremony, she said, would allow "working people"--not just the downtown business Establishment--to participate in the festivities.

So her brief speech urged her supporters to celebrate, telling them: "We deserve to celebrate." And celebrate they did, adjourning the hourlong ceremony to a party inside the city's cruise ship terminal, the creation of which was an oft-cited accomplishment of her June 3 opponent. Cleator, out of town on vacation, missed the ceremony.

Although the ceremony and the party cost the city an estimated $3,500, several thousand dollars more in food, drink and decorations were donated by local firms.

Paul Downey, O'Connor's press secretary, said the total value of the donated goods would not be known for several days because the firms must file forms with the city detailing their contributions.

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