Despite the challenges wrought from an ongoing pandemic, a 2022 inauguration of New Castle town and county officials still managed to deliver an overriding message asking for unity following a divisive election in town–along with words of admiration and appreciation for the Clintons who presided over the January 12th ceremony at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center.
On ChappPac’s signature purple-lit stage, the ceremony streamed live to those who had registered via a virtual invite. Among those who came in person were proud family members of the officials sworn in, and who, despite the pandemic, also had the opportunity for a meet and greet with the Clintons. In her remarks welcoming the Clintons, Lisa Katz thanked the Clintons “for always making time for your community in ways large and small,” she said. “You can’t possibly know how much our town appreciates you.”
President Bill Clinton swore in Lisa Marlo Spivack Katz as the newly elected Town Supervisor, and Christian Hildenbrand and Tara Kassal as newly elected Town Council members. Secretary Hillary Clinton swore in Vedat Gashi, as a re-elected County Legislator, Noah Sorkin as a re-elected Town Justice and Victoria Bayard Tipp as a newly elected Town Council member.
Remaining on the board until his term expires at the end of 2023 is town council member Jeremy Saland. Saland had served as deputy and acting supervisor until this past December after former town supervisor Ivy Pool resigned, relocating with her family to Chicago.
Gashi expressed gratitude for the role the Clintons played preventing an ethnic cleansing in his hometown of Kosovo–noting landmarks in Kosovo honoring them including a shop named ‘Hillary’ that he said, ‘sits on Bill Clinton Boulevard.’ Bill Clinton responded in his remarks: “One secret to our unity is not to be anti-immigrant… Anytime an election can be made about the people, you’re much more likely to a get a happier country, a more united country.”
As for the local election and the early evening event, Bill Clinton noted: “This is a celebration of Democracy… this is the way that Democracy is supposed to work.”
Vicky Tipp expressed the prevailing unity sentiment. She said she had “a lot of hope and optimism” that the new board might be “a community model to heal divisions,” and one to “foster a climate of inclusion and collaboration.”
The row of masked public officials on stage facing a largely empty auditorium was a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges posed by Covid. For his part, Saland thanked County Executive George Latimer and Deputy Executive Jenkins “for exuding calmness and leadership throughout the pandemic.”
County Executive George Latimer introduced Hillary Clinton with his remarks, and later State Senator Peter Harckham introduced Bill Clinton. Statements were made by Assemblyman Chris Burdick, and also by town residents Robert Kirkwood, Zhengxi ( Larry) Liu, and Alexandra Chemtob. Rabbi Aaron Brusso from Congregation Bet Torah officiated with the opening invocation and his own remarks, too.
Latimer, before introducing Hillary Clinton, noted that as Secretary of State, “she had visited every possible place on anyone’s bucket list… that she and the President chose to live in Chappaqua and make this town their home is a statement about Chappaqua.”
Hillary Clinton offered that she “wished to support our local government to make the community the best it can be.” She noted the appropriateness of the event’s location inside ChappPac, which she called “a labor of love” by Lisa Katz.
Harckham applauded the ceremony as a “uniquely American tradition… we come together in unity… We are all vested in your successes,” he said.
Bill Clinton shared that “Hillary and I have lived in Chappaqua together longer than in any other place… and 2 ½ times longer than in the White House.” He expressed fondness for the town, noting the Memorial Day parade, as one example. He called Chappaqua “a rich in history, diverse and wonderful place… America needs more of this–badly.”
Chris Hildenbrand called the Clintons “town treasures” and “part of the fabric of the community” after commending New Castle’s “many volunteers dedicating their precious time to the town” in the spirit of Hillary’s “It Takes a Village.”
Tara Kassal, who was sworn in remotely, stated she was looking forward to sharing her “expertise in the area of sustainable development.”
In closing remarks, Supervisor Katz called the new council members “a dream team transcending party politics… with a shared vision of inclusivity, unity and collaboration.”