Heartwell Takes The Mayoral Oath

December 31, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — George Heartwell was sworn in as the city’s 58th mayor Tuesday before a full house in City Commission chambers, officially taking the mantle from former Mayor John Logie, who had served as mayor since January 1992.

Heartwell indicated last week that he would spend the next four years striving for the common good and promoting goodwill, and he pledged his “energy, creativity and industry” to the job.

He told the crowd at his swearing-in ceremony that there are three things that are enduring: faith in God, love of family and the power of community.

“Community exists when people find themselves together in a time and a place in association with neighbors not necessarily of their choosing. We share the same geography, we breathe the same air, we share the same dreams for our children and we travel the same roads and walkways.

“While community is enduring, it’s also fragile. Its light dims when race divides, or when any of us refuse to own the suffering of any others of us.”

The community is diminished, he said, when seniors huddle in the cold because they can’t pay the gas bill; when children go to school hungry; when teens see no promising future ahead; and when parents can’t find jobs and provide for their families.

“We are all responsible for seeing that the community is not diminished, but rather that it flourishes and enfolds all its members,” Heartwell said.

“If community means we’re all in this together, then community government means that those who we elect to serve have a special obligation, a sacred trust to hold the common good before personal benefit,” he continued.

He said a good community is a healthy, just and equitable community, and it requires work to achieve.

“Commissioners, citizens, let’s get to work,” he concluded.

Heartwell served two terms as a Third Ward city commissioner in the 1990s.

His background includes 15 years in business as a mortgage banker for Heartwell Mortgage, and 13 years in the ministry with Heartside Ministry in Grand Rapids.

He currently team teaches in Aquinas College’s Community Leadership undergraduate program and directs the college’s Community Leadership Institute.

He has been a member of Aquinas’ administrative staff since January 2000.

Also sworn in at the ceremony in city commission chambers last week were returning commissioners Roy Schmidt, Rick Tormala and Robert Dean.

Schmidt began his first term as a First Ward commissioner in 1992 and won re-election in 1995, 1999 and again in 2003.

Schmidt thanked First Ward residents for returning him to office and thanked Logie for his leadership and vision.

He referred to his 12 years working with Logie as “one of the highlights” of his life.

“This city is a great city, and I never forget the constituents I represent,” Schmidt commented. “But it takes a team and a staff like we have — a staff that I think is second to none. It’s a pleasure to have the kind of people who really care.”

Tormala began serving as a Second Ward commissioner in January 2000 and was re-elected to a second term last year.

After taking his oath of office, Tormala said the commission must defend the rights and address the needs of the city’s seniors, veterans, children, working families, neighborhoods and the disenfranchised.

“We should do these things not because it’s in the city charter but because it’s the right thing to do.

“Whatever action the city commission takes has to be just — whether it’s a resolution, an ordinance, a budget item or even a tax.”

Dean began his first term as a Third Ward commissioner in January 2000 and won re-election last year, as well.

He thanked voters for their show of confidence in his service to the Third Ward and said he would continue his commitment to serve in the best interests of the citizens of Grand Rapids, particularly the Third Ward.

“I will continue to work to ensure good projects that are funded in a fair and equitable way,” Dean said. “I’ve taken the position of demanding fair access to city services and appointments for all of our citizens.”

He said he plans on devoting his time to making sure taxpayers are receiving the highest and best use of their assets.

“Toward these ends, I invite the citizens of Grand Rapids to let me know how I can help make the quality of life better for them and how I can assist in making this city accommodating to all its residents and visitors.

The mayor’s and three commissioners’ current terms expire Dec. 31, 2007.

Along with members of the city commission, Ruth A. Lumpkins and James Botts were sworn in as library commissioners on Tuesday.           

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