On a cold, blustery inauguration day, Gov. Andy Beshear wasted no time heating things up, using an executive order to make good on a campaign promise to replace the Kentucky Board of Education and saying he will file another executive order on Thursday to restore voting rights to nonviolent felons.
“Our commonwealth is more than just a state. It is a commitment, a commitment to an idea and an ideal, that we will come together for the common good of all people,” Beshear said during his inaugural address.
Since the new governor’s father, Steve Beshear, served as the state’s chief executive from 2007 to 2015, the two men become the first father and son to serve as Kentucky governor in the state’s history.
Andy Beshear also becomes one of the youngest governors in history, having recently turned 42 years old.
Beshear said his faith teaches him to treat others with dignity and respect.
“My faith also teaches me forgiveness. That’s why on Thursday I will sign an executive order restoring voting rights to over 100,000 men and women who have done wrong in the past but are doing right now,” he said. “They deserve to participate in our great democracy. By taking this step, by restoring these voting rights, we declare that everyone counts in Kentucky. We all matter.”
Education took up much of Beshear’s remarks, including another executive order. “This morning, I reorganized the State Board of Education and appointed new members who support public education,” he said.
“These members were not chosen on the basis of any partisan affiliation but based on their commitment to make our schools better, to put our children first.”
He also repeated a vow he made after being elected that his first budget, which he will submit to lawmakers during the 2020 session, “will include an across-the-board $2,000 pay raise for teachers.”
Beshear told the large crowd assembled for the inauguration: “We not only teach our children that words matter but that our actions speak just as loudly. My hope is that together we can work to live the values we teach our children in both our words and our actions. I intend to lead by example. And I will strive to build an administration that does the same.
“Now, we are living in the most divisive period of our lifetime. Today gives us a chance to get this right. To be a lighthouse in the storm, to be a beacon in the night.”
He concluded his remarks by saying, “We’re all on Team Kentucky. Let’s prove to this country and to each other that we can get this right. I can’t wait to get started.”
Jacqueline Coleman was also sworn into office as lieutenant governor. A lifelong educator, she echoed Beshear’s comments on public education and explained why he chose her as his running mate.
“It means that starting today, public education is a top priority in Kentucky. That the voices of our classroom educators, the people on the front lines, will take a prominent role in shaping public policy,” she said. “As lieutenant governor and secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, I will work to build a better Kentucky for our families and our children, to right inequities and remedy social injustices.”
Frankfort Mayor Bill May and Franklin County Judge-Executive Huston Wells had a role in the swearing-in ceremony.