Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra had a ringside seat to the transfer of power from the administration of Barack Obama to Donald J. Trump on Friday morning.
Vierra was one of a handful of local residents in Washington D.C. to witness the historic inauguration of Trump, who has never held office before.
“I think he tried to reach across the aisle a little bit,” said Vierra. “Possibly the Democratic side wouldn’t see it that way.” He was particularly struck by this line from Trump’s Inaugural Address: “We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag and whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look at the same night sky, and dream the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath by the same almighty creator.”
The Ceres mayor was in Washington, D.C. to attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Washington Hilton. Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth attended as did Modesto Mayor Ted Brandvold and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Vierra said Mike Pence, the new vice president, spoke to the group of mayors.
“The Secret Service was everywhere,” said Vierra. “It was a good speech. He just talked about what they were looking forward to getting accomplished.
Vierra texted Congressman Jeff Denham to see about the availability of tickets for him and son Ryan to attend Trump’s swearing-in ceremony and snagged them for the first of the standing section directly behind those lucky enough to get seats.
“It was impressive and very interesting. It’s amazing to see the efficiency with which they put all the stuff up over the last three days. We’ve seen security tighten and tighten and tighten. It goes off flawlessly but … has been very well planned.”
Vierra said those who watched the Inauguration festivities on TV likely missed how the crowd booed when Hillary Clinton appeared on the Jumbo-Tron. When Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a vocal critical of Trump spoke, Vierra said he couldn’t hear for all the boos and jeers.
“I had to read the teleprompter because people were booing him so much.”
The overcast weather in D.C. was mild – in the 40’s and no rain – compared to past inaugurations.
“The people here at Denham’s office were thanking us for bringing the California weather and I said, actually, I think it’s a lot worse in California right now than it is here.”
After the Inauguration, Vierra and other officials – including Stanislaus County Supervisor Terry Withrow and Atwater City Councilman Brian Raymond – attended a reception at Denham’s office before heading over to watch the Inaugural Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.
“It was once in a lifetime. I can’t even begin to describe it. All the pictures that we took makes it seem like you’re a long ways away but you really are not.”
Vierra also attended a black-tie reception Thursday evening hosted by the House of Representatives at the Library of Congress where Speaker Paul Ryan appeared and a noted astronaut.
The Ceres mayor was intrigued to see some historical documents that were pulled out for display, including a handwritten copy of Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 Inauguration Address.