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Richmond’s youngest mayor: ‘Today marks the start of something new’

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RICHMOND, Va. – In his inaugural speech, the River City's 80th and youngest mayor ever explained that his administration will no longer accept the "dysfunction and inefficiency" of years past.

"I don't think we can afford to keep doing the things the way we've always done them," Mayor Levar Stoney said.

The 35-year-old mayor's friends, family, and supporters packed the Council Chambers at City Hall for a public swearing-in ceremony noon Saturday.

Mayor Levar Stoney

"We are a diverse city, an inclusive city, and we are welcoming," Stoney told the audience which included his mentor, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and Sen. Tim Kaine.

He touted Richmond as a city on the rise.

"It's the right city for the 22-year-old like I was after college," Stoney said. "It's the right city for the young couple and families with dreams of raising their children in a community of neighborhoods, a mosaic of cultures that reflects all of us regardless of our color, where we worship or who we love."

But, he admitted the city is lagging behind in education, income equality and public works services.

"School buildings are leaking, crumbling and depleted. Teachers are underappreciated and underpaid," he said. "In too many communities in the past we’ve left the grass grow high, the leaves in the streets giving fresh evidence that we can’t count on our city government for anything."

Mayor Stoney also asked for a moment of silence for the 61 homicide victims in Richmond in 2016.

"Far too many kids and families live in fear stoked by the specter of gun violence each and everyday," he said.

Stoney promised to initiate a complete performance review of every city department and committed that the annual financial report be completed on time in November.

He said the problems in our city won't be solved overnight.

"Richmond you are my family and this is our home," he said. "Today marks the start of something new. We must do it together as one city, as one Richmond, and we will."

The city's 80th mayor was officially sworn into office New Years Eve at City Hall during a private ceremony for friends and family.