RICHMOND, VA ( Associated Press) — Virginia’s new governor, Glenn Youngkin, strikes a tone of bipartisanship and optimism, after taking the oath of office on Saturday, vowed to “restore confidence in the government and restore power to the people”.
“Today we stand together on behalf of Virginians who have never lost faith, even when they have suffered. Those of Virginians who have not stopped dreaming of a better life, even in the midst of trials and tribulations too,” he said in front of the historic state capitol to thousands of enthusiastic spectators. “My fellow Virginians, the spirit of Virginia is alive and well. And together we will strengthen it.”
“No matter who you vote for, I pledge to be your advocate, your voice, your governor,” said the Republican, a former private equity executive. and a newcomer to politics.
Youngkin’s inaugural address was part of the pomp and circumstance of the weekend in Richmond as Virginia’s newly elected GOP leaders took office. Attorney General Jason Miares and Lieutenant Government Winsome Earl-Sears The oath was also taken during the outdoor ceremony.
That moment opened a new chapter of governance in a state where Democrats had spent the last two years in complete control of the government and had occupied the governor’s mansion for the past eight years.
Youngkin acknowledged the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has included more than 15,000 Virginians who have died, and vowed to lead the state toward “new and better days”. While Youngkin encourages those eligible to be vaccinated, one of his first acts as governor was to eliminate the need for a vaccine for state workers.
He also told about his campaignPledge to cut taxes, “remove politics out of the classroom,” raise teacher and law enforcement salaries, and boost the economy. As Omicron infection fills hospitals with unvaccinated patients In Virginia and across the country, she vowed to keep children in schools, emphasizing the importance of individualized education and acknowledging the toll virtual schooling takes on working parents, especially mothers.
“We know that when our children do not go to school it harms their learning and development. So let me be clear – we should put our kids in school five days a week,” he said.
References to Virginia’s long history and America’s founding fathers were woven through the address, but Youngkin also acknowledged the country’s “chapter of great injustice.”
He credits “barrier-breakers” like former Governor Doug Wilder, the country’s first elected Black governor, for paving the way for the inauguration of Miares and Earle-Sears, who both made history themselves. Miares is the first Latino to serve in the position and Earle-Sears is the first woman to serve in a statewide office.
Youngkin said his election showed that “Virginia is big enough for the hopes and dreams of diverse people.”
Shortly before the ceremony began, former Virginia governors met with Youngkin and outgoing Democratic Governor Ralph Northam inside the Capitol. Every living governor but Terry McAuliffe, Youngkin’s rival in last year’s election, was in attendance. McAuliffe tweeted that he and his wife were “quarantining due to a close COVID contact in the interest of health and safety” and wished Youngkin well.
Youngkin, Northam and their wives – Susan Youngkin and Pam Northam – also took part in a cordial executive mansion key exchange ceremony. Northam, who like all of Virginia’s governors was refused a second consecutive term, assured Youngkin that the key card he was given was still working despite being chewed on by the family dog, Pearl. .
Youngkin is the state’s 74th governor and the first Republican to hold the position since Bob McDonnell left in 2014.
The 55-year-old former collegiate basketball player, who amassed a personal fortune during a career at the Carlyle Group, last year captured McAuliffe’s parents’ frustrations about school closures and references to race in classes. While Donald Trump backed him, the former president never campaigned with him, enabling Youngkin to garner a GOP base without turning off suburban voters in the long-trending blue state.
Voters also elected a GOP majority for the House of Delegates, leaving the Democrats with only a 21–19 majority in the state Senate. As a check on Republican ambitions. Earle-Sears will preside over the chamber, which will have the ability to cast tie-breaking votes.
Senate Democrats congratulated the governor and said they looked forward to working with him, but indicated a willingness to fight to protect his party’s achievements.
“Let me be clear: Senate Democrats have no intention of holding back two years of tremendous progress for all Virginians — not just a select few,” Caucus Chair Mamie Locke said in a statement.
Saturday’s ceremony included a traditional blessing of land by representatives of the Indian tribes of Virginia and a prayer led by the Youngkin, who made their Christian faith an important part of their campaign.
After the ceremony, the parade started. Youngkin then went to his Capitol office, where he signed nine executive orders and two executive directives covering a range of topics, from eliminating the need for vaccines to establishing a commission on human trafficking. He also ordered Virginia to be removed from the carbon cap-and-trade program, a move whose full impact was not immediately clear.
The appointments of his cabinet secretaries, who took the oath of office in the executive mansion, depend on legislative approval, with at least one. Opposed by many Senate Democrats.
Saturday’s planned festivities usually included a large downtown party featuring a Zac Brown band in lieu of a more formal affair. Attendees were encouraged to wear patriotic colors, cowboy boots or “Glen Vest”, such as the type of red wool the candidate preferred when campaigning.
Youngkin also helped landscaping an area along the Richmond Slave Trail on Friday, which commemorates how the city became a major center in the slave trade before the Civil War. He also attended a $10,000-per-ticket candlelight black-tie reception held at a science museum on Friday evening.
There was a prayer breakfast before the opening on Saturday morning, and the weekend was scheduled to end with an open house at the Executive Mansion on Sunday.