This morning around 10:30, Governor-elect Jay Inslee and his wife entered the packed Capitol Rotunda of the Legislative Building where Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen administered the oath of office, making Inslee the 23rd Governor of Washington State.
Denis Hayes, the President and CEO of The Bullitt Foundation, which just built “the most efficient commercial building in the world,” served as emcee of the event. He started his remarks by saying that he was pleased that neither ice nor fear of the flu had kept people away from the event, which at Inslee’s request was being held in the rotunda to accommodate more people. Hays then quipped that the flu was afflicting the very young and very old, thereby giving a double whammy to Hugh Hefner and his wife.
On a more serious note, Hays listed some of the problems affecting our nation, including economic woes, our low global education ranking, and the high percentage of Americans in prison, on probation, or on parole. Then he said, “Governor Inslee will address them with courage, intelligence, and determination.” He went on to speak at some length about climate change and praised Inslee for being the only official to be elected on a platform of combatting climate disruption. He referred to Inslee’s “carefully crafted multitiered platform” and “how his vision for a sustainable future would benefit our state.”
After the oath of office, Inslee very briefly addressed the crowd and then said, “Let’s go build a working Washington.”
He left to address the joint legislative session on the House Floor. The special session was called for the purpose of administering the oath of office to newly elected state officials and to hear Inslee’s address.
Joint Session of Legislature
In attendance were the Justices of the Washington State Supreme Court, including the newest member, Bainbridge’s Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud. Also in attendance were former Governor Mike Lowry and Sam Reed, who until today’s ceremony served as Washington Secretary of State. Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen officiated as president.
Lena Hou, a fourth grade student at Sierra Heights Elementary in Renton, sang the anthem.
Eagle Harbor Congregational Church’s Reverend Dee Eisenhauer gave the opening prayer. She prayed for “transcendence over what divides us” and for humility and hope in our elected officials. She addressed the Supreme Being and said, “You’ve blessed Governor Inslee with a passion for preserving this green earth.” She asked that God “provoke peace” and “steer us away from futile dissonance and steer us instead to creative harmony.”
Finally, she asked God to give the Governor “wisdom, give him courage, give him strength and patience, nudge him to ask for help when needed and to listen as well as he speaks, to learn as well as he teaches, and to follow as well as he leads.”
After state officials took their oaths of office, Inslee addressed the legislature. In his speech he communicated a vision of Washingtonians as sharing a pioneering spirit, no matter whether they are fifth-generation residents, as he is, or newer arrivals to our state. He said innovation is in our genes. He said that that pioneering spirit means that “Washington State has the potential to lead the next wave of innovations.”
Inslee introduced his wife of 40 years, Trudi, who received a standing ovation from the chamber. Then he spoke about family and said that we should be proud that our state supported marriage equality. He said approval of Referendum 74 “represents the best of who we are as a state” and it shows “the progress we can make, always toward equality, always toward fairness, always toward justice.”
He also outlined his top priorities, the first of which is jobs. He said we face “fierce and immediate global competition for the jobs of tomorrow” and described those jobs as an “opportunity and not an entitlement.”
He said he will reform the state bureaucracy and our state health care to “incentivize quality over quantity, value over volume.” He also said he will sign the Reproductive Parity Act.
He spoke about the Newtown shooting and described how the educators at Sandy Hook ran toward danger to help the children as other adults present hid to protect themselves. He asked the legislators to honor all teachers for what they “do every day in every school,” which is to protect children.
Then he spoke about a commonsense approach to gun reform and mental illness, promising to work with the legislature to “address this crisis responsibly by creating a public health solution for a public health crisis.” He added that “any failure to address the issue of violence this year will be intolerable.”
He concluded with climate change and spoke of how it threatens our state agriculture and fishing industries. He said, “I can’t look the other way or point fingers.” He also emphasized how there is no controversy over climate change: “The controversy is resolved. What remains is how we respond to the challenge. We must embrace our role as first responders. . . . We must embrace our role as pioneers. We will not hand over our destiny to lead the world in clean energy to any other state or nation.” He added, “We don’t deny science in Washington. We embrace it. We do not follow technological innovation. We lead it. We will not pass up a golden opportunity to create jobs.”
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