Patsy McGlone has pledged that the SDLP will continue to engage with the community as the party enters a new era in its history.
The Mid-Ulster MLA was confirmed as the deputy leader at the party’s annual conference in Newcastle last weekend.
It was also announced that Margaret Ritchie had defeated Dr Alasdair McDonnell and will replace outgoing leader Mark Durkan.
Both Mr McGlone and Ms Ritchie take over at a crucial time in Northern Ireland, after the agreement on the transfer of policing and justice powers.
During his speech at the conference, Mr McGlone said community engagement is the bedrock of the SDLP.
"In my time as a public representative I have worked with many community groups like the GAA, churches of many different denominations, local support groups, campaign groups, school groups and social organisations,” he said.
“And each of these play an important role within our society and with our elected representatives.
"The new SDLP leadership team will expect increased and improved performance from our elected representatives.
“Community engagement is the bedrock of the SDLP. And that is how we will take the party forward. That is how we will take Irish society forward and that is how we will take Irish politics forward."
Mr McGlone stepped down as a councillor on Cookstown District Council late last year to concentrate on Assembly duties.
He was first elected in 1993 and was returned in each successive election.
He also held the post of Chairman of Cookstown council in 2002-03 and 2005-06. He has been an MLA since 2003.