Moline's newest city leaders were sworn in Tuesday night.
Standing before a crowd of more than 70 people inside the Bartlett Performing Arts Center at Moline High School, outgoing Mayor Stephanie Acri administered the oath of office to Mayor-elect Sangeetha Rayapati at the end of the council meeting, shook her hand and handed her a red gift bag. Inside the bag was a new gavel — a tradition from outgoing mayors to the new.
Following a contentious race, Rayapati defeated Acri in a landslide, capturing 61% to 39% for Acri in the April 6 municipal election.
Rayapati then administered the oath of office to newly-elected 2nd Ward Alderman Alvaro Macias, 4th Ward Alderman Matt Timion, 6th Ward Alderman Pat O'Brien and Alderman at-large James Patrick Schmidt.
Each alderman received a round of applause and handshakes as they took their seats for their first official council meeting. The only item on the agenda was public comments, of which there were none. Acri and outgoing Alderman at-large Sonia Berg, 2nd Ward Alderman David Parker and 6th Ward Alderman Kevin Schoonmaker quietly exited the auditorium.
Former 4th Ward Alderman Dick Potter, who chose not to run for reelection after a total of 18 years on city council, stayed and greeted well-wishers and chatted with his replacement, Timion.
After the meeting, Rayapati thanked Acri and the outgoing council members.
"Anyone who steps up for public service should be commended, so I am thankful they did that for all the years they (served)," Rayapati said. "I'm excited for this new phase of leadership. I'm excited to work together with the community and the council and all of the employees to really make Moline a place that we all cherish."
Macias said he was eager to get started.
"We already have some work in the pipeline," Macias said. "I want to look at the hiring of a city administrator and from there, really building a team that gels together and building the foundation to take the city forward. I'm listening and I'm learning. I'm just excited that I'm part of this new chapter for Moline.
"I'm just happy the residents of Moline spoke. Other people stepped up and they are looking to bring about positive change, and I feel really good about it. What kind of legacy can I leave?" Macias said. "I want to take some time to visualize that and work with the rest of the council to make some really cool things happen."
Timion said he was looking forward to carrying out the promises and platforms he and the other candidates ran on, like filling vacant positions "and getting the city to run in a way that benefits the people of Moline."
"We are already actively interviewing city administrators; that's the first thing we are going to do," Timion said. "And really just stepping back and letting the staff do their jobs and restoring the council's position of being an advisory board to the city and not trying to run the city."
Schmidt said he also was ready to hit the ground running.
"We've been putting a lot of energy into thinking about how we want to move the city forward, and now we get to go and do it," Schmidt said. "I'm really excited to make sure we start getting staff in place where we need it so we can keep building up and make sure services are at the level Moliners expect and deserve.
"We need to figure out our roads and how we can make sure we are getting the simple maintenance and potholes, but also, how we make a bigger, long-term plan so we can get back on track to make sure we have roads we are proud to drive on, not something we are trying to avoid."