The other highlight of the evening -- actually before the mayor gave his speech -- was when the City Council chose its new president for 2013 during the city's annual inaugural ceremonies.
That role goes to freshman Councilor-at-Large Tom Gould as he begins the second year of first term on the council. Gould, who owns Treadwell's Ice Cream, actually topped the ticket in the 2011 city election.
Traditionally, the council chooses the most junior member who has never served as President before to take the helm.
Longtime Ward 5 Councilor Dave Gamache nominated Gould for the job Monday night, expressing confidence in Gould's leadership abilities and mentioning Gould's years of active civic involvement in the community and local business ownership.
Gamache said he was "lucky" to have known Gould for many years. Back when they first met he told Gamache he would run for office "some day." And even then, "there wasn't one person who had a bad thing to say about [Gould]," Gamache said.
Gould thanked his colleagues for "having faith in him" to lead the council and thanked veteran councilor and outgoing President Jim Liacos for his leadership and patience.
"Jim is in a better place right now," Gould said, remarking on Liacos' absence Monday. "He's in Puerto Rico."
"There is a lot of work to be done," said Gould, foreshadowing Mayor Ted Bettencourt's remarks that evening. "Traditionally, every mayoral administration has had the opportunity to create a vision and leave its mark on the community. Mayor Bettencourt, now is your time."
Gould issued the following charge to Bettencourt:
"The people of Peabody want you to take our city to the next level. We want our city to become the economic engine of the North Shore that it was once was. We want our schools to be safe, first-class centers of learning that will take a backseat to no one. We want to continue to stabilize the tax rate that we have grown accustomed to. We want to continue to have the best senior services on the North Shore. We want to continue to enjoy the wonderful culture that makes us who we are. We want Peabody to continue to be a place young families look to buy a home and raise their family."
Gould concluded his remarks, pledging that the council will continue to provide necessary leadership conducting the "people's business" and that everything will be professionally and openly.
He said he also looks forward to working with Bettencourt and the mayor's team to "make Peabody the city other cities look to for leadership."