After placing her hand on her grandfather’s Bible and taking her oath of office Monday night, Missouri City native Yolanda Ford made history as the first woman and first black to hold the mayor’s seat.
Then she quickly gave a brief example of who she is by thanking God, her family, and those who supported her in her election victory over 39-year incumbent Mayor Allen Owen.
She acknowledged that the runoff race was close between her and Owen.
“I know we have a lot of differences, but with that, we have to learn to appreciate our differences so we can work together to get things done. We have to learn to work together as brothers or we will perish as fools,” she said to an appreciative, standing-room-only crowd that spilled over into the basement of City Hall to watch the event streamed live on television.
Ford’s first official action as mayor was to swear in Chris Preston, councilman at-large in Position 2, who maintained his seat.
“I’m starting my third term a proud product of Missouri City. I am proud of this community. The schools raised me, my neighbors invested in me and looked out for me, the churches prayed for me. I owe a debt to this community and I will pay that debt in full. We have a lot of unfinished work so let’s get back to it,” said Preston.
Next, Ford thanked Owen.
“You have served this community well since July 1983 by exemplary dedication to the best interest of the community and deserve the admiration and high regard,” she said.
He, too, thanked God and those who supported him. He noted that Missouri City has come a long way since he first started with a population of 24,000.
“We’ve come a long way and worked with a lot of councils and a lot of great staff. I look back over the years and we are not a bedroom community, we are the industrial giant of Fort Bend County,” Owen said.
The swearing-in ceremony attracted legislators and well-wishers including State Rep. Jarvis Johnson, who described Ford as a lifelong friend.
“You have a friend in the State House who will do all I can to assure your success. Missouri City, you have a fantastic mayor,” he said.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee thanked Owen for his service and the smooth transition of power that she said captures the essence of democracy. Then Lee spoke to Mayor Ford.
“It is important to affirm that you make an enormous statement of history, a history that speaks to a new trajectory in the state of Texas that we have moved to a place where people are elected on the basis of credentials, irrespective of race. You are the first African-American woman to be elected mayor and this is no small measure. And no one should take it as excluding anyone. If you love service, you can serve all the people,” said Lee.
Finally, Diana Waters, spokeswoman for State Sen. Boris Miles, read a proclamation congratulating and recognizing Ford, who graduated from Dulles High School, earned a bachelor degree in psychology from the University of Houston and a master of architecture from Prairie View A&M University.
Ford began her career as an urban planner and land development specialist.
“She grew from designing non-profit programs to overseeing multimillion developments, facilitating vast land acquisitions and managing $42 million revenue fund. She leveraged her expertise in grassroots campaigning to focus on economic development, public safety and revitalizing aging infrastructure” the proclamation says. “She is deeply engaged in her community, given generously of her time to make a better place and reflect with pride leading the city into a new era of progress.”