Fine Gael Cllr Des Cahill, 45, said his journey over the last two years is an example of how things can turn around for people in financial difficulty.
“None of it could have been achieved without friends and family,” he said.
“Talking about it is the only way out of this kind of trouble. I would encourage people who find themselves in similar difficulty to open up a bit more, to talk about it.
“It is tough, and you have to be tough, but you can come through it.
“Positivity will be the mantra of my year. I’d like to instil confidence back in the city, to emphasise the best of Cork at all opportunities.”
Mr Cahill, from Ballintemple, and who represents the south-east ward, was nominated by Fine Gael Cllr John Buttimer and seconded by Fianna Fáil Cllr Terry Shannon.
He was described as an honest, outspoken and straight-talking politician who calls it as it is, despite the political consequences.
He defeated the only other nominee, Anti-Austerity Alliance Cllr Marion O’Sullivan, 20 votes to three.
Speaking afterwards, he praised outgoing mayor, Cllr Chris O’Leary, and called on the developers of the city’s stalled events centre to resolve the outstanding issues which are preventing construction work from starting.
Mr Cahill’s wife, Ankie, who is from Maastricht, Holland, and their children, Isabel, 14, and David, 12, as well as relatives of his late parents, Bob and Dina, Housing Minister Simon Coveney, and Senator Colm Burke, were among about 80 guests who watched from the public gallery as he was elected.