This article was originally published by ABC 15 Arizona
TEMPE — Tempe’s newest councilmembers were sworn in during a ceremony on Friday. Tempe’s first Black female councilmember sat down with ABC15 to describe the impact and her goals moving forward.
“I, Berdetta Hodge, do solemnly swear….,” says Hodge. “So help me God.”
Hodge took the oath of office Friday to have her seat on the Tempe City Council.
She’s been on the Tempe Union High School Board nearly six years where she’s served as president and vice president. She is now the first Black female councilmember for Tempe.
“When we do this, we open doors for other people to follow in, so I am excited to be a door-opener,” said Hodge.
Hodge’s goals are to bridge the city’s gaps between education and government, along with making housing more affordable and improving care for the homeless.
“I am not going to lie, my biggest emotion is nervousness. If I wasn’t nervous, you should then be worried because we when we stop caring and stop being nervous, that means we are apathetic and not caring as much,” added Hodge.
The woman, who comes from a family well known throughout Tempe, promises transparency and equality.
One immediate area of focus is taking a look at the controversial drowning of a man in front of police at Tempe Town Lake in May.
“We had a reactive scenario. What are we going to do to be proactive, so this doesn’t happen again,” added Hodge.
She wants things to go differently.
“This is not just a Black man who drowned. This is also a homeless man who drowned who was unsheltered,” added Hodge.
Friday’s swearing-in ceremony for Tempe’s newest city councilmembers is making headlines for many reasons. Not only did a Black woman take her oath, but so did an Asian-American as well as an openly gay woman who just began her second term.
“I think it just tells you exactly who we are as a community. This is an exceptionally diverse community in the city of Tempe and the council, you see up there, reflects that diversity,” said Tempe Mayor Corey Woods.