Mayor William Reynolds was sworn in on Jan. 3 at city hall, becoming Bethlehem’s 14th mayor.
In attendance at the inauguration was Rep. Jeanne McNeill, Rep. Steve Samuelson and former Bethlehem mayors including Robert Donchez, John Callahan, Don Cunningham and Ken Smith. Lehigh University’s President Joseph Helble and Moravian University’s President Bryon Grigsby also attended.
In Reynolds’ speech, he reminisced about growing up in Bethlehem and thanked the past mayors of the city for their work.
Reynolds is an educator and has been on the city council for the past 14 years.
He said there has never been a more popular time to live in Bethlehem and acknowledged there is much more work to be done in the city.
“In many ways the pandemic has broken open things that people in this room knew existed for a long time: inequity, systems that were broken, opportunities that exist for some of us and don’t exist for everybody,” Reynolds said.
He said he has been working to expand those opportunities for everybody. He also said he will continue working on economic development and revitalization.
Reynolds said in his years on city council he learned that no progress is made alone and it takes a community to make change.
“It’s a new day in our city and it is a responsibility we don’t take lightly,” he said. “We are honored to have this opportunity to help write this next chapter in our remarkable story.”
Abraham Kassis, judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County administered the oath of office.
Bishop Hopeton Clennon, senior pastor at Central Moravian Church, spoke and led a prayer at the inauguration.
Janine Santoro, director of equity and inclusion for the city of Bethlehem, also gave a speech.
She said this new administration must address systemic issues of equity and inclusion for all people in order to meet their goals.
“We are a city that believes in being a place of belonging for all,” Santoro said. “While it is one thing to say we believe in these things, it is quite another to live into them.”
She said the administration is going to take action on this by striving to combat discrimination, forming relationships with officers and the community members and making places like city hall truly representative of all the people that live and work in Bethlehem.
“While he is the one taking the oath today, we also gather as community members, as city employees, and as community leaders with our specific gifts and roles to make a promise with our presence because we are not just bystanders, but people who will hold his accountable and promise to do our part to in supporting this vision of belonging over the next four years,” Santoro said.