Declaring that “our possibilities are endless,” newly-sworn Manchester Mayor Jay Ruais delivered his inaugural address to a full house at the Palace Theatre on Tuesday morning.

Ruais, 38, was accompanied by his wife Veronica, who immigrated from Peru in 2005 and whose presence inspired him to attempt some Spanish in his remarks. (Reviews from actual Spanish speakers were mixed.) While he was introduced by his one-time boss, GOP former Mayor Frank Guinta, Ruais asked another former mayor, Democrat Bob Baines, to swear him into office. It was one of many bipartisan flourishes in the inauguration that reflected the character of Ruais’ campaign, which avoided partisan attacks and promoted unity.

“Our possibilities are endless. Today doesn’t mark the victory of one candidate or the triumph of one political party over another,” Ruais said. “But rather, it’s a new beginning for our beloved Queen City.”

During his address, Ruais gave shout-outs to both Democrats like Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas and Republicans like Gov. Chris Sununu, all of whom attended. He told the audience he had already spoken to those elected officials since the election, and he thanked outgoing Democratic Mayor Joyce Craig for her help during the transition.

Craig is currently facing off in her party’s gubernatorial primary against Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington.

Ruais’ upset victory over Craig’s handpicked successor, Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh, is credited to both his efforts to build a nonpartisan coalition and his aggressive door-knocking campaign. According to Ruais, his campaign knocked on 40,000 doors before Election Day.

When Father Jason Jalbert of St. Francis Cathedral read from the Book of St. Matthew, “Knock and the door will be opened to you,” he quipped, “I think you knocked on a few doors, didn’t you? Very scriptural.”

In his remarks, Ruais spoke briefly about the support he’s received from his wife and the debt he owes his parents, as well as his own struggle with addiction. (“I know recovery is possible because for 4,682 days I’ve lived it.”) But most of his remarks reflected the low-key, results-oriented campaign he ran.

Not surprisingly, Ruais’ top priority in his speech was homelessness.

“We will be a leader in the fight to end homelessness,” he told the audience. “We will follow through on our promise to effectively enforce and strengthen our ordinances against camping. Growing encampments are not good for those who are living in them, and they are certainly not good for our city.”

Ruais said the city would partner with the state government and other agencies to provide help for homeless people who want it.

“But for those who wish to take advantage of us, or break our laws or defile our streets, know that we will have no tolerance for that level of lawlessness,” Ruais warned.

Ruais also committed the city to addressing the lack of housing.

“Everyone talks about the need for more housing,” Ruais said. “Manchester’s going to show how it’s done.” He announced listening sessions across the city to enhance the ongoing rewrite of the city’s zoning ordinances.

And Ruais put bail reform on his short list of top concerns.

“A safe city is a prosperous city,” Ruais said, noting that in 2022, more than 700 criminals were arrested, released, and rearrested for petty crimes, violent assaults, robberies, and even murder.

“Nothing would have a more transformative impact on our safety than removing nearly 1,000 criminals from our streets. The fight for our security will continue today, it will continue tomorrow, and it will continue until everyone in our community feels safe,” Ruais said.

He also announced he is heading to Concord Wednesday morning for a State House appearance to promote bail reform and pledge Manchester’s support — and he’s invited the members of the Board of Aldermen to attend as well.

While Ruais’ message centered around consensus, he didn’t hold back on the city’s budget troubles and the need for immediate action.

“All non-emergency city hires stop today,” Ruais said, adding that he also wants a freeze on all non-essential spending by the city.

“I made it very clear in the speech that we have some financial realities we are facing in the city right now, and we need to get our fiscal house in order,” Ruais told NHJournal. “One of the first acts I could take was stopping any kind of additional hires right now, putting a freeze on non-essential spending. Making sure that we can get all of our ducks in a row as the budget season progresses over the next few months.”

Ruais also made it clear he expects the city’s elected officials to put hard work of leadership ahead of politics.

“Our politics must be worthy of the people we serve,” Ruais said. “My message to the Board of Aldermen is if you’re looking for ‘likes’ or clicks or to win an argument for argument’s sake — you’re in the wrong building. If you’re looking for an easy answer, you’re in the wrong place.”

Ruais concluded by showing he was ready to get started.

“I have a countdown on my phone, and right now, we have 734 days, 12 hours, 22 minutes, and 42 seconds left in our two-year term. Time’s a-wastin’, and I’m on the clock. It’s time to get to work.”