New Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam spoke of hope and outlined the plans for his administration as he took the oath of office on Saturday and became the state’s 73rd governor.
The Democrat won November's election thanks to strong voter antipathy toward President Donald Trump. The ceremony on Saturday included the swearing in of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring.
In prepared remarks, Northam said one of his goals was to accept ideas from both sides of the political aisle in an attempt to improve the life of the residents of Virginia.
“The guiding principle of this administration will be simple,” Northam said. “We will work together to make our Commonwealth work better for all Virginians, no matter who they are or where they’re from.”
The new governor honored the service of military and spoke about Virginia’s history, both good and bad.
“Our history is complex in Virginia. But no other place on earth can claim it,” he said. “This unique heritage endows us with a responsibility to shape the future, to leave this place better than we found it. That’s the Virginia way.”
Northam talked about his experiences as a youth on the water and his dad’s advice about always having a compass in life. Later, while referring to his time as a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute and as a doctor, the governor said the state needs a moral compass for the days ahead.
“My dad’s advice stayed with me when I reached the Virginia Military Institute and was given a different kind of compass in the simple words of the VMI honor code: ‘A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do.,’” Northam said.
“Those words have stuck with me all these years because they’re so clear. They have become a kind of moral compass for me. They always call me back home safely. Virginia and this country need that more than ever these days.”
He said his administration would work toward more healthcare, not less, for Virginians, womens' rights to make decisions about their own healthcare and steps to address “the public health crisis of gun violence.”
“If we are going to build a healthier Virginia for everyone, we must address the public health crisis of gun violence,” the governor said. “I am ready to work with you to make Virginia safer by passing smart reforms that keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them.”
He promised to always tell the truth and maintain the trust from Election Day by putting Virginia’s interest first.
“I am committed as your governor to fight every day for the hope that tomorrow will bring for all of us, not just some of us. Because it can be.”
“If we work together today, tomorrow will be better for all of the Virginians who have placed their trust in us to fight for them every day. This country is once again looking to Virginia to lead the way.”
“Let us lead with humility and optimism, telling the truth, learning from history and removing every obstacle to progress for all Virginians. Let us rely on the compass we all carry to show us the way ahead.”