Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 3, 2013

CLEVELAND — Sitting on the Cleveland Town Board of Commissioners for 19 years, and most recently serving as its mayor pro tem, Danny Gabriel has swung the gavel a few times.
But it felt different, Gabriel said, when he took it Monday night as the town’s new mayor.
“It feels good,” Gabriel said. “It brings a little bit more responsibility, and I hope I’m up for it.”
Monday’s meeting lasted about 20 minutes, and the highlight was the swearing-in of Gabriel, returning commissioner Pat Phifer and new board members Gerald Osborne and Richard Taylor.
All won their seats in the November election, Gabriel running unopposed to succeed outgoing mayor John Steele.
Before the stepping down Monday, Steele recognized Travis Summitt, who lost his bid for a second term by one vote in November. And Gabriel recognized Steele, who had served two terms as mayor after two as a commissioner.
Then, one by one, the board members beginning new terms put their hand on a Bible and took the oath of office, repeating it after town clerk Cathy Payne.
“I think I made a hundred on that test,” Taylor joked after signing the oath.
The first order of business for the new board was electing a mayor pro tem. Phifer, with 22 years on the board, was the unanimous choice.
With the leadership set, Gabriel said he has priorities going forward.
“We’ve always been more of a reactive board, and I hope people are going to see us change in the next two years to being more proactive … things we discuss, following through on in a timely manner,” he said.
A Cleveland native, Gabriel said he’s carrying on a family tradition. His grandfather served on the town board in the 1930s. And, he said, he hopes he’s carrying on the tradition of all the mayors with whom he’s served.
“Hopefully, I learned something and will continue the good work,” he said.