A chilly, rainy day on the steps of Legislative Hall in Dover set a scene of a sea of umbrellas on hand to see John Carney take the oath of office as Delaware’s 74th governor.
“Is it raining now?” Carney asked before beginning his inaugural address. “I feel the sunshine in my heart.”
In his address, Carney vowed to be a highly visible governor, whose first order of business is to get the state’s finances in order, as Delaware is currently facing a $350 million budget deficit.
“The hardest truth may be that we can’t do anything else unless we get our state’s finances under control. We have a revenue problem, but we also have a spending problem. In the coming months, we’ll put forth a plan for addressing our budget crisis not just for one year, but for years to come,” Carney said. “We are at the end of the road on this one. There’s nowhere else to kick the can. Working hard and working together with leaders on both sides of the aisle in the General Assembly, we will begin to address our long-term financial issues without delay.”
Carney cited education and improving the city of Wilmington as two other issues he will be looking to address.
“Every Delaware child deserves a world-class education. Many of our schools have made great strides in recent years, and we have a lot to be proud of. But the truth is, we need to do better, especially for poor and minority students. Our Department of Education will be an agency that offers support to teachers. We will hold schools accountable, yes. But above all, we will partner with teachers and parents in serving the best interests of our students. And we will partner with struggling communities to improve education for our most disadvantaged kids,” he said.
As for Wilmington, Carney said he wished to tackle the city’s crime problem, targeting resources to crime-ridden communities and improving the prison system to better prepare offenders to re-enter society.
Besides Carney, the ceremony also saw the swearing-in of Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who also echoed a note of improving the state’s economic conditions.
“Whether it is the military veteran struggling in western Sussex who skips taking their medications in order to pay the electric bill, or the young family of four in Dover living out of their car. Our friends, our neighbors, our veterans; those who struggle with their mental health and those who are battling addiction. The countless number of people who just feel like they can’t get a fair shake from their government. We are undoubtedly at a crossroads in our state's future. The good news is that Delaware is filled with many talented and dedicated people to help us tackle and solve those challenges,” she said.
For the Cape Region’s state representatives, the state’s budget was the main issue on their minds.
“He’s talking about a comprehensive review, looking at spending, looking at revenue and for me, I wanted to hear that,” said Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach. “We need a more stable revenue stream, and we need to start planning years down the road in terms of revenue.”
Schwartzkopf said he would look to places to cut spending first before looking at raising new revenue sources.
“I’m looking forward to working with our new governor,” said Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes. “Our budget concerns are tremendous. When you’re staring down the barrel of a $340 million budget deficit, you really need to sit back and look at the options we have and say, ‘What can we continue to do as government and what can we not do anymore?’”
Finishing his address, Carney said, “Four years from now, when it’s time for the people of Delaware to render a judgment on this administration, I want them to say this: That the economy is stronger because middle- and working-class Delawareans are better off. That there are better-paying jobs that Delawareans value and where they feel valued. That they feel safer in their neighborhoods, and in our towns and cities. That more of their kids are graduating ready for what comes next, with a sense of promise about the future. That our state’s finances are strong and in order. That Delaware had a governor who listened and worked hard for them.”
INAUGURAL ADDRESS – GOVERNOR CARNEY
Full text of Gov. John Carney’s inauguration speech as prepared for delivery:
On Saturday night, some of you here today braved the freezing rain and came out to the Clear Space Theater in Rehoboth for our first Inaugural event – a Celebration of the Arts.
In addition to a jazz band from Cape Henlopen High School and a traditional dance by members of the Nanticoke tribe, we heard from Polytech High School Senior Hannah Sturgis. Hannah’s a teenage poet, but she has a wise old soul.
She recited for us a poem she wrote called “Vision.” It struck a chord with me, and I think it sets the tone I’d like to set here today. I won’t do Hannah’s delivery justice, but I’d like to read a few excerpts now:
When I look up at the sky I see my dreams bouncing by
Like clouds of promise that keep me honest
Where they can go I don’t know but the road I walk might be long
I get vision when I know that life is changing and my goals are rearranging
I have vision because life is not a hopeless dream
Life is what we make it seem
And when we were young we were told to be like the sun and beam
So I keep on with that vision
As I made a list of thank yous for today, I realized that I could stand up here and do nothing but thank the people on this platform and in this audience. And that would be appropriate.
Lt. Governor Hall-Long, thank you for being part of my team, I look forward to our journey together;
President Pro Temp McBride, Speaker Schwartzkopf, Members of the General Assembly;
Governor Markell, Senator and former Governor Carper, Congresswoman Blunt Rochester, and Governor Minner.
Chief Justice Strine, Justice Vaughn, and Justice Seitz.
Thank you for your service to our state and for your presence here today.
Members of the State Police and National Guard, Staff Sergeant Scott and representatives from Dover Air Force Base, thank you for your service to our state and our country.
Dr. Williams, thank you to you and to our host, the City of Dover; Reverend Davis, Rabbi Beals, Monsignor Hopkins, and other members of the clergy, thank you for minding our spirits today and always.
Tracey, Sam, Jimmy, Mom, and all my brothers and sisters, and our whole family. Thank you for being a witness to this event and for being my foundation.
We’ve heard a lot recently about change –
• That our economy is changing. That we’re competing with the rest of the world, and that technology challenges us to keep our sights on human progress;
• That our kids need to be prepared for a future unlike our past, and unlike even our present;
• That our safety and security are challenged in new ways, and require new solutions and working together.
Change is the new normal for our world, our country, and our state.
But we should also remember that some things haven’t changed. And they should never change – the American Dream. The Delaware Way in its most valuable and valued expression.
The American Dream is not about winning the lottery, not about a few people getting lucky. It’s about working hard. The Delaware Way is not about a few powerful people behind closed doors. It’s about working together. Those things are timeless.
Yes, we need to become more agile. More creative. More determined.
Not to keep up. But to shape our own future.
Do we have challenges?
Will they be difficult to overcome?
Can we meet those challenges by working hard and working together?
And that is what we owe to the people of Delaware:
The family in Wilmington that deserves to live in a safe neighborhood, where they can go to work and their children can go to school without the fear of violence.
The workers in Newport and Seaford coping with a new economic reality.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs who have good ideas and need a government that supports their vision and then gets out of the way.
It’s about our collective future, and how we’ll create opportunities for all Delawareans to succeed.
And, as President Obama reminded us so eloquently last week, our collective future is our collective responsibility. It is my privilege, starting today as your governor, to work hard to live up to the trust of leadership in meeting that responsibility.
What does that mean?
It means that over the next four years, you will see me working every day:
In Legislative Hall.
In our schools.
In our prisons.
In board rooms.
With our business leaders, our workers, our farmers;
With Democrats and with Republicans.
We are going to work together, and think in new ways about our future.
We can no longer expect any single industry or company to be responsible for Delaware’s economic stability, let alone our future.
Our administration will work to lead our state through a transition to an innovation economy, where we’re not only the First State when it comes to incorporating a company but also the First State when it comes to growing a company and deepening its roots here in Delaware.
We will work with private investors to retool our industrial sites and put Delawareans to work.
We’ll also rethink our economic development efforts.
We will support small businesses and entrepreneurs and teach our students the skills necessary to succeed in the jobs of the future.
Working hard, working together to bring jobs to our state, and to keep them here -- that’s what will get my team and me up in the morning, and what will keep us working into the night.
We will work in partnership with business and labor. We will reach across the aisle. We will reach across state lines and national borders to grow the Delaware economy.
We will also reach into the neighborhoods of our largest city, because I truly believe that our state cannot succeed if Wilmington does not succeed.
Working hard and working together, with our new mayor and new county executive, we must break the poverty to prison pipeline. In the short-term, we will get serious about our crime problem. We’ll target resources to the most crime-ridden neighborhoods. And we will better prepare ex-offenders to come back to the community.
Wilmington residents and the tens of thousands who commute into the city deserve to feel safe and feel proud of where they live and work. Businesses should feel confident investing there. We all have a stake, and a compelling responsibility, to make Wilmington healthy again.
Part of the solution is in our schools. Every Delaware child deserves a world-class education. Many of our schools have made great strides in recent years, and we have a lot to be proud of. But the truth is, we need to do better, especially for poor and minority students.
Our Department of Education will be an agency that offers support to teachers. We will hold schools accountable, yes. But above all, we will partner with teachers and parents in serving the best interests of our students. And we will partner with struggling communities to improve education for our most disadvantaged kids.
The hardest truth may be that we can’t do anything else unless we get our state’s finances under control. We have a revenue problem; but we also have a spending problem. In the coming months, we’ll put forth a plan for addressing our budget crisis not just for one year, but for years to come.
We are at the end of the road on this one. There’s nowhere else to kick the can. Working hard and working together with leaders on both sides of the aisle in the General Assembly, we will begin to address our long-term financial issues without delay.
My cabinet nominees—a group of dedicated, talented people who are ready to serve our state, will be key leaders. They, too, will undertake their work in accordance with our state and our nation’s timeless principles, and our recognition of what the future demands of us.
Four years from now, when it’s time for the people of Delaware to render a judgment on this administration, I want them to say this:
That the economy is stronger because middle and working class Delawareans are better off;
That there are better-paying jobs that Delawareans value and where they feel valued;
That they feel safer in their neighborhoods and in our towns and cities;
That more of their kids are graduating ready for what comes next, with a sense of promise about the future;
That our state’s finances are strong and in order;
That Delaware had a governor who listened. And worked hard. For them.
We all know that it won’t be easy, that there will be tough decisions, that there will be times when we disagree.
But working hard and working together, we will find a path forward, and we will be better than we were before.
To the people of Delaware, thank you for your trust. It is a great privilege; it is a great responsibility. And we will not let you down.
God bless you and God bless the State of Delaware and God bless our great United States of America.