In a ceremony highlighted by quips and smiles, praise and gratitude, Gene Brown was sworn in as Duncan’s 28th mayor Monday night, receiving a standing ovation from the near-capacity crowd in the City Council Chambers.

A longtime public servant, Brown has served 22 years as a city councilman under eight different mayors.

In his remarks following the oath of office, which was administered by Duncan Municipal Court Judge George Sherrill, Brown said he hoped he’d been able to learn a little bit from each.

From outgoing Mayor Al Hinshaw, he said, he learned that humor can be used to get people to relax and work as a team.

“Al had a different twist on being a mayor, he saw the ‘lighter side,’” said Brown. “If things would get tense, he’d say something out of left field to make you laugh.”

Hinshaw’s comedic attitude served to mask his strong work ethic, said Brown.

“Al was everywhere, all the time,” said Brown. “Wherever you went, he had either just left or was on his way.”

Brown then presented Hinshaw with a commemorative plaque.

“We’ll miss him,” summed up Brown. “Al had a way of making people feel like a part of the city government, and it’s one reason why morale is so high.”

The new mayor said it was a “great time” to be assuming the city’s top spot.

“We’ve got a great team right now,” said Brown. “Overall, we’re getting a lot done. I know it will be busy but I will be proud to work for the city.”

Brown said the during his term as mayor, he’d like to see better communication develop with the residents of Duncan, so that more people are involved in city government.

“I’d like it to become personal to them, I’d like to see everyone ‘selling’ Duncan, so that anyone just visiting Duncan would realize that Duncan is a great place to live.”

It’s something he and his wife, Mary, believe, he said.

“We’ve had the opportunity to live other places, and choose to live here,” he said.

He said he also plans to follow the advice of former Councilwoman Charlotte High, who presented him with a small silver pin in the shape of a mouse prior to meeting.

“It’s to remind me to be as quiet as a mouse, and listen,” he said.

The new mayor admitted to being a little nervous as he introduced his family, church family, friends, neighbors and former city officials.

“I’m grateful to you all for being here,” he said.

Mary Brown, along with Mynan Hutto, presented Brown and the City Council a Key to the City, saying they’d had a few smaller versions made to give away to dignitaries on special occasions.

The council then elected Michael Hale as vice mayor, by a unanimous vote.

Brown was elected mayor in February, garnering 54 percent of the vote in a four-candidate field, and winning every precinct. He is the city’s first black mayor.

“This is an historic event in Duncan,” said City Manager Clyde Shaw. “Being elected by such a majority despite multiple candidates to me shows that the whole community supports him.”

Brown’s council seat is now vacant, and a replacement will be appointed by the council to fill out the remaining year of Brown’s term.

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