Glenn Youngkin Sworn in as 74th Governor of Virginia: 'We Stand Here Today to Accept the License to Lead'

|
Posted: Jan 15, 2022 4:00 PM
Glenn Youngkin Sworn in as 74th Governor of Virginia: 'We Stand Here Today to Accept the License to Lead'

On Saturday afternoon, to a crowd of over 8,000 people, Glenn Youngkin was sworn in as the 74th governor of Virginia, following the swearing in of Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares All three are Republicans, with it being the first time a Republican has been elected statewide since Bob McDonnell in 2009.

Youngkin's inaugural speech struck a familiar tone of what he has been saying from the campaign trail all along,  from even before he secured the nomination last May. "Together we’ll renew the promise of Virginia, so it will be the best place to live, work and raise a family," he said. 

The speech also touched upon COVID, acknowledging not only the more than 15,000 Virginians who have died from the virus, but how "not a single one of us has escaped the tragic consequences of COVID-19."

When it comes to such "consequences," Youngkin specifically mentioned education. "We know the impact borne by children, who fell behind because their classrooms were locked down too long," the governor said. "And the strain placed on parents. Especially Virginia moms who had to juggle with their homes becoming job sites and virtual classrooms overnight."

Education would come up in other parts of the speech as well, which had been a particularly relevant issue in the campaign. At one point, Youngkin had to pause because the crowd was cheering so loudly, as the newly inaugurated governor talked about banning Critical Race Theory (CRT). 

"We will remove politics from the classroom and re-focus on essential math, science and reading.  And we will teach all of our history the good and the bad," he assured the crowd. "And we know that when our children don’t go to school it harms their learning and development. So let me be clear we must keep our children in school 5-days a week," he continued, to a standing ovation. 

Youngkin also had a message for parents, saying "they should have a say in what is taught in school, because in Virginia, parents have a fundamental right to make decisions with regards to their child’s upbringing, education and care. To parents I say we respect you. And we will empower you in the education of your children."

Another memorable aspect of the campaign trail, which made its way into the speech, was support for law enforcement. 

 "The most basic compact government must make with every citizen is to preserve public safety," Youngkin reminded, going on to say "my pledge is that we will restore safety by fully funding law enforcement." He got into specifics as well. "Starting today, we will comprehensively fund higher salaries, better training, investments in equipment. And we will protect qualified immunity for law enforcement."

Youngkin at one point during his speech asked those who were veterans. service members, as well as members of enforcement, to stand or raise their hand to be recognized. 

"If someone tells you there are no heroes anymore --- tell them to come to Virginia," he tenderly shared after such a moment. 

The speech didn't merely touch upon policy, though. There was mention of Virginia's rich history, as well as the historic diversity of this ticket.

During the campaign, former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder (D-VA) had laid criticism upon fellow Democrats, including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), whom Youngkin beat last November. He went on to offer kind words for Youngkin during the campaign trail and had had a role with the transition team. 

On Saturday, Wilder received recognition by Youngkin, with Youngkin also going on to acknowledge Sears and Miyares. Sears is the first female and first Black female to be elected to the position. Miyares is the first Latino elected to statewide office.

From Youngkin's speech:

And Virginians have led boldly from our founding – Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and our very first governor, Patrick Henry, who insisted on adding the Bill of Rights to the Constitution to protect our individual liberties. 

This is our lineage. And following generations carried that mantle, leading and serving as Virginians are called to do.

Barrier-breakers like Maggie Walker and Governor Doug Wilder (who is here today) --- leading the way for the historic inauguration today of our new Lt Governor Winsome Earle Sears and our new Attorney General Jason Miyares.

The people of Virginia just elected the most diverse leadership in commonwealth history. Sending a message that Virginia is big enough for the hopes and dreams of a diverse people.

We stand here today to accept the license to lead. And will do so by including all and welcoming all. Because the future of Virginia belongs to all.

A statement from Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) President Dee Duncan also referenced Sears' historic win. The RSLC and its affiliated PACs were Sears' largest contributors. 

"Congratulations to Winsome Sears for being sworn in as Virginia’s 42nd lieutenant governor, the first woman and woman of color to hold that position in the Commonwealth’s history. As the start of a new era in Virginia begins, Lieutenant Governor Sears is well-prepared to help Republicans deliver on their campaign promises of supporting our law enforcement, decreasing the cost of living, and empowering parents to be involved in their children’s education. We are proud to have supported Lieutenant Governor Sears in her historic campaign that resonated with Virginians of all walks of life and will serve as a model for expanding the Republican Party in the years to come," Duncan said. 

The inauguration also included an inspirational reading selected by Youngkin that was read by Supara Dutta and a blessing of the ground by representatives of Virginia's 11 American Indian tribes. 

Prayer, which had been a big part of the campaign, was also front and center. The inauguration contained an invocation by Pastor Calvin A. Duncan of Faith and Family Church  and a benediction by Pastor Jonathan Avendano of Iglesia Mana Del Cielo. Before adjournment, Youngkin himself offered a prayer.

Youngkin also signed several executive orders on Saturday, all of them fulfilling "Day One promises" he made during the campaign. 

The nine orders, as explained by Youngkin's office, involved:

  • Executive Order Number One delivers on his Day One promise to restore excellence in education by ending the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, in public education.
  • Executive Order Number Two delivers on his Day One promise to empower Virginia parents in their children’s education and upbringing by allowing parents to make decisions on whether their child wears a mask in school.
  • Executive Order Number Three delivers on his Day One promise to restore integrity and confidence in the Parole Board of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 
  • Executive Order Number Four delivers on his Day One promise to investigate wrongdoing in Loudoun County. 
  • Executive Order Number Five delivers on his Day One promise to make government work for Virginians by creating the Commonwealth Chief Transformation Officer. 
  • Executive Order Number Six delivers on his Day One promise to declare Virginia open for business. 
  • Executive Order Number Seven delivers on his Day One promise to combat and prevent human trafficking and provide support to survivors.
  • Executive Order Number Eight delivers on his Day One promise to establish a commission to combat antisemitism.
  • Executive Order Number Nine delivers on his Day One promise to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

There were also two directives:

  • Executive Directive Number One delivers on his fulfilling his Day One promise to jumpstart our economy by cutting job killing regulations by 25 percent. 
  • Executive Directive Number Two delivers on his fulfilling his Day One promise to restore individual freedoms and personal privacy by rescinding the vaccine mandate for all state employees.

Youngkin beat McAuliffe last November, who had previously been elected in 2013 but was prohibited from running again in 2017 since the Virginia constitution does not allow governors to serve back-to-back terms.

McAuliffe tweeted his well wishes for Youngkin on Saturday, noting that he wanted to be there, but that he and his wife, Dorothy, were quarantining after coming in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID.