Lawrence elected officials take oath of office in Jan. 1 ceremony


It was standing room-only for the Jan. 1 ceremony marking the day Lawrence elected officials took their oaths of office, with family members, friends and supporters packing the Public Assembly Room at Government Center, 9001 E. 59th St. off Post Road.

Ali Brown, representing Lawrence’s District 10 on the Indianapolis City-County Council, emceed the event and gave introductory remarks. She noted that the ceremony marks a historic day.

“There’s a lot of history happening. We are swearing in our first African American Black mayor in all of Marion County and our first here in the City of Lawrence,” she said, referring to Mayor Deb Whitfield. “Lawrence also made history up and down the ballot. Leatrice Adkisson is our first African American Black (city) clerk. We have also elected our first out, queer councilor, Zach Cramer. And as I stand here (wearing) white today, I’m excited to tell you, 123 years after women got the right to vote, we have a female majority … on the council.”

White clothing traditionally represents women’s suffrage.

Lawrence Township Judge Kimberly Bacon administered the oath of office to Whitfield, with the new mayor’s family standing behind her for support. Whitfield’s voice trembled with emotion as she swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the State of Indiana. Whitfield then addressed those gathered in the audience.

“It’s the start of a new year in Lawrence with a new administration for our city,” she said. “I would like to take a few minutes of your time today, as I stand here deeply honored, to say thank you, community, for spending your afternoon with us. Words cannot express the overwhelming feeling I have today, standing in front of you as your mayor.”

Whitfield said she will work hard to represent the entire city, build relationships, bring neighborhoods together and unite the community. She also thanked former Mayor Steve Collier, who did not seek reelection and completed his second term in December.

Whitfield expressed appreciation for the support of friends and family, and of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, who attended the ceremony. She also noted the importance of voting and said that every vote matters.

“I accept this position as mayor with enduring faith,” she said. “Faith that will give this administration courage to step up and step out to bring about incredible opportunities for the future of our city. Faith on days when we get frustrated, dreary and tired. Faith to get up and try again.”

Whitfield challenged individuals to help her new administration to make a difference.

“I cannot do this alone; this will take all of us,” she said. “So, let’s do this together. My question to you, community, ‘Are you ready?’ I am. I will serve with love and animation. So, welcome to the Whitfield’s administration. Let’s get to work.”

Immediately after her speech, Whitfield performed her first official duty as mayor — swearing in the new Lawrence Fire Department chief.

Longtime LFD Chief Dino Batalis retired effective Jan. 5. Bob Wallace, who has been deputy chief of administration, will now lead the department.

Earlier in the ceremony, Marion County Superior Court Judge John Chavis administered the oaths of office to each of the council members and new city clerk. The council members in attendance were Tyrrell Giles (D-District 1), Sherron Freeman (D-District 3), Carlos Jennings (D-District 4), Zach Cramer (D-District 5), Kristie Krone (D-District 6), Lisa Chavis (D-at-large), Liz Masur (D-at-large) and Betty Robinson (D-at-large). Adkisson also is a Democrat.

Rick Wells (D-District 2) wasn’t present for the ceremony.