Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Amen to That: Dejuana Bigelow sworn in as first black woman Burlington city council member

Judge Larry Brown struck a resolutely spiritual tenor on Tuesday when he ascended the stage of Burlington’s Paramount Theater to swear in the city’s newest councilmember Dejuana Bigelow.

Not satisfied to merely recite the prepared oath of office, the district court judge assumed an ecclesiastical manner as he dwelled on the significance of Bigelow’s elevation to the city’s leadership.

“You made history tonight,” he told the newly-minted councilmember as he gradually lowered his voice. “You stand here as the very first African-American woman to be a city council member in the city of Burlington.

“Look at God!” he added with a sudden burst of volume.

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Although Brown soon dropped the pastoral persona and got down to the business at hand, his invocation of the Spirit seemed to have a lingering effect on the new councilmember’s mother-in-law Vanessa Bigelow.

Once the oath had been administered, Vanessa Bigelow broke into an old gospel standard that soon had much of the audience clapping and tapping their feet to the melody.

“I am on the battlefield for my Lord,” she crooned in a clear, resonant voice. “I am on the battlefield for my Lord. And I promised him that I would serve him ‘til I die. Cause I’m on the battlefield for my Lord.”

Also sworn in Tuesday night were mayor Jim Butler, elected to his second mayoral term in November, and Bob Ward, who won his fourth term.

Dejuana Bigelow is sworn in as her daughter Zoi holds the Bible.
Bob Ward is sworn in as his wife Doris holds the Bible.
Jim Butler’s wife, Kim, holds the Bible as the couple’s three adult children – Megan, Nathan, and Grayson – look on as Butler is sworn in to a second term as Burlington’s mayor.

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