The audience erupted into cheers and applause Tuesday morning when Julie Giordano was introduced as the first female Wicomico County Executive.
Smiling after being sworn in by Clerk of the Court James “Bo” McAllister, as her husband, Ralph, held a Bible on which she took the oath of office, Giordano walked to the podium and, in a friendly and conversational manner, reflected on a political journey she characterized as “one of the most humbling and encouraging things I have ever done in my entire life.”
A friend suggested she run for the position, she recalled, and once she became a candidate she studied the late former County Executive Bob Culver who, she said, “left an unfinished list of what is necessary for the continued growth of the county.”
She met with delegates and senators and Sheriff Mike Lewis – who had strong words for praise for her and who thanked her husband for taking on parenting responsibilities the past few months-- as well as with state Republican leader Nicole Bennett and her campaign manager, Dan McHugh.
Giordano and Bennett were having dinner together when Giordano, a Republican activist, announced she wanted to run for County Executive, she recalled, and Bennett replied, “Girl, we got you.”
“I met with others who supported me. People were jumping on board at different points in time. This train kept growing and growing with people … on election night we knew we were successful and it was the most amazing moment,” said Giordano, 41, who teaches English and lives in Hebron. She started teaching in 2005.
“Hard work is hard work. Success takes hard work,” she said, addressing her students in the audience at the James M. Bennett High School Auditorium. “Your path is never set. When you want something you go for it. As much as I loved being your teacher, I could not wait to wake up this morning,” said Giordano, who wore a black pantsuit with red blouse and scarf with a red, white and blue patriotic design.
“So thank you and we look forward to local leadership,” she said, turning to hug those on stage with her, including state Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, Delegate Carl Anderton, Lewis, Bennett, McHugh and David James, who presented the opening prayer.
Bennett, who spoke before Giordano, recalled her friend “sitting across from me in a restaurant.”
“We were eating oysters and she said, ‘I’m going to run for County Council.’ I said, ‘County Council? You can’t do that. You’re an employee of the county, right?’ She said, ‘Hmm. Maybe I’ll run for County Executive.’ I have never seen a candidate as on fire. She is still your teacher and she wants you to know you can achieve your dreams,” Bennett said, addressing students.
Anderton, in true form, dropped formalities and called Giordano his newfound sister then did his best to rouse the audience into repeating a version of what she said during her campaign when asked about particular problems: “I’m coming.”
“When she needs something from us, we will say ‘We’re coming,’” Anderton said, urging the audience to repeat the phrase.
“This is the end of mediocrity. We’re going to show up and we’re going to show out,” he said, raising his voice and bringing hearty applause.
Carozza called the swearing in “a day of opportunity.’
“How will she lead? Julie Giordano will listen. She will seek others out for assistance … she will play to the strength of others and always put the needs of others before herself,” Carozza said.
She is looking forward to working the Giordano “and taking a regional approach to the challenges we face together,” she said.
“You made the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office and my deputies the centerpiece of your campaign … today I stand here ready, prepared and excited to work with you,” Lewis told her.
“This is an exciting moment. This county will be in great hands. Today we couldn’t be more proud of you,” he said to more cheers.
In the minutes before the 9 a.m. swearing-in ceremony began, photographs of Giordano, with her family and during her campaign, were projected on a large screen. A group of men standing in the back of the auditorium were overheard saying, “Long time coming” and “It’s about time.”
Before offering the welcome prayer, David James told the audience: “God has allowed a new leader and a new season for this county” and urged county residents to “let God use you to uplift Julie.” He prayed for God’s hand to be on Giordano and her family.
As the event began, a recording of “God Bless America,” sung by Celine Dion, played and the James M. Bennett Concert Choir sang “The National Anthem.”
McHugh pointed out Culver’s son, Chris, and daughter, Courtney, in the audience and told them, “We studied your dad a lot, guys” as the audience welcomed them with applause. “This county is going to be in good hands, folks,” he said.
Four new members joined the Wicomico County Council on Tuesday night and were sworn to four-year terms.
Democrat Shanie Shields joined Republicans James Winn, Jeff Merritt and Shane Baker as members of the seven-seat legislative branch.
As a first order of business, Council President John Cannon of Salisbury was re-elected by his colleagues to continue as the council’s leader.
Newcomer Baker was elected Vice President.
Both selections were unanimous.