Gavin Buckley, the 137th mayor of Annapolis, took the oath of office on Monday, December 4, 2017 in front of a large diverse crowd on West Street.
Onlookers gathered to witness the new step being taken by the 54-year-old optimist armed with new ideas and a prominent Australian accent.
Buckley was raised in Australia by a single mother. He is husband to Julie Buckley, father of sons Dash and Miles, a cancer survivor and an avid runner.
The ambitious businessman who has lived in Annapolis for nearly 25 years arrived with only a few hundred dollars in his pocket.
“Gavin is an American success story,” said Steve Schuh, County Executive of Anne Arundel County during Buckley’s inauguration. “I’m so glad to see an official delegation from Australia here.”
Buckley is a former server who worked at Middletown Tavern. He later started a coffee shop called The Moon. Then, Lemongrass, Metropolitan and Tsunami restaurants were also established by the entrepreneur who played a role in the revitalization of West Street.
Buckley was able to rely on his working partners to take care of their restaurant businesses, while he took a political leap.
“A couple of years ago, I got a crazy idea that I could run for mayor, based on the current mayor (Mike Pantelides) who hadn’t actually been a [councilman] before. I didn’t think it would be possible without that experience, but Mike has always been my inspiration,” Buckley said before his public mayoral debut. “I joke with him about that, and today I’m getting sworn in.”
Buckley’s campaign was rooted in inclusivity. He remarked that individuals must stop hating one another just because of voting for different parties.
“You shouldn’t surround yourself with people that just think like you. I’m looking forward to bringing new ideas to this city— with the County Executive (Steve Schuh) [and] with the Governor (Larry Hogan),” Buckley said, during his inaugural speech. “We all need to work together. I truly believe that it is going to be on the local level, that we are going to heal the country, and come together as one.”
Buckley faced an attentive crowd as he revealed that the economy, the environment and the community are points at the top of his mayoral list. He reminded everyone that Annapolis is known for it’s colonial history. However, Maryland’s capital has great music history. Annapolis can be utilized for various local events.
“Yesterday we had a big, massive chocolate festival in the street that had over 20,000 people come to it,” the then mayor-elect first mentioned in an upstairs room at Tsunami, before beginning his four-year term. “We’ve driven things like the First Sunday Arts Festival, comedy festivals —anything that could kind of identify this street (West Street) as an Arts District.”
Buckley said that he ran out of money the day before the primary. He had a fleeting moment when he wondered if no one cared about progressivism. The next day he waved a sign on West Street and the day of the election and it felt like every second person tooted their horn. Buckley added that this response ‘kind of lifted him.’
As Buckley stepped forward to embrace his new responsibilities, he mentioned that the budget, union egotiations and other tasks such as finding out the needs of local businesses, speaking to city employees, and finding out some of their ideas and making them feel confident that he has their back, are other priorities.
When it comes to youth and education, Buckley stressed that there is a moral imperative to stop public schools from reflecting the prison system. He noted that problems such as disenfranchised youth, the presence of the MS-13 gang and the national rise of white supremacy require involvement.
“We’ve got to get in there and give kids some answers. Give kids some hope,” Buckley said, mentioning that fixing things is possible. “We have a small population, and I think you can drill down on individual situations [to] find out what’s going on.”
Anne Arundel County Executive Schuh underscored that Annapolis citizens are Anne Arundel County citizens.
“We all walk the same streets, drive the same roads and want to improve the quality of life in this city,” Schuh said, noting shared challenges. “I look forward to working with his (Buckley’s) partners to make his vision a reality, so that our two jurisdictions can achieve their share of destiny. There is no limit to what our city and county can do by working together, and I look forward to the path ahead.”