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Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon Sworn In For Second Term

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After taking the oath of office for his second term, Governor Mark Gordon delivered his Second Inaugural Address.

Governor Gordon pledged to continue to fight for Wyoming values, and called on her citizens to work together to build the state’s future. 

The Governor’s speech encouraged engaging with others holding differing views, and laid out a vision “for Wyoming to chart her path, independent of political fashion, or popular trend.”

“The undeniable fact is that our founders did not leave us a fire-and-forget, plug-and-play government,” Governor Gordon said. “Our government requires participation and effort and compromise. We must work together to begin this next chapter.”

The Governor, along with Secretary of State Chuck Gray, Auditor Kristi Racines, Treasurer Curt Meier, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder, was sworn in by Wyoming Chief Justice Kate Fox during a public ceremony held in the Capitol Rotunda at 10:30 a.m Monday (January 2nd).

The Governor called on citizens to advocate for, and protect, Wyoming values, and said the state must seize the opportunities that lay before it.

He spoke of the importance of education and economic diversification, noting the state’s future is its children and grandchildren.

The Governor also pledged to continue emphasizing responsive, responsible and accountable government.

“Wyoming’s time is now,” the Governor said. “While others fiddle for answers, Wyoming is ready to solve the challenges of our time – not with talk but with action. To Wyoming, I say we will not be deterred by any obstacles. As Governor, I commit to use every power I have to protect Wyoming’s interests and potential.   

The Governor concluded by thanking his family and stressing the importance of the next several years, and its impact on future generations.

“We have been given a great state, a great nation, and a great gift, and we know it is our time to leave this world a little better for our time in it. On this day, we stand united and ready to seize our future — as Wyoming people have always done — with courage, confidence, and conviction.”

Governor Gordon’s Inaugural Address:

Today, we begin a new year and I begin a new term. It may be snowing and blowing outside right now, still this is Wyoming after all, we know that tomorrow skies will be clearer, the winds calmer, and our future will be as bright as it has ever been.  

Jennie and I are honored and humbled to be here on this day. To say thank you and welcome to all of you gathered here, in the People’s House, or watching online.  Because we live in Wyoming — each of us knows we can and will play an important role in building our future. 

I grew up in Kaycee on the North Fork of the Powder River.  It’s a town rich in Western history, Native American trails ran through our country and later was known for the Hole in the Wall, the Johnson County War, some great bronc riders and Chris LeDoux.  It is where the values embodied in the Code of the West run deep.

I grew up proud of my state — but I can truly say becoming Governor was never on my mind.  The thing about Wyoming is no matter who you are or where you come from —   you will have a better chance to meet, influence and even become leaders of our state than anywhere else.  Ours is truly a citizen government – and citizens make a difference. 

Bear in mind though, we are Wyomingites – a people less impressed by who you are or whom you know;  we care more about what you do. We care about your character and judgment.

My sister Valerie, and I grew up on horseback. I remember one particular August day when we rode with our dad from cow camp back to the ranch. Even though I was only 11 I looked forward to helping out.  

We had checked on our summer pastures and needed to get home. We left the cabin as a light snow started to fall for what seemed like a routine ride back to the ranch, but unexpectedly it turned into a full-on blizzard. It became bitterly cold, and we tucked our hands under the saddle blankets to keep our fingers from freezing.  

The trail from cow camp to the ranch winds along ridges, through draws. It goes past a certain tree where the trail leads across a broad grassy slope. If you miss the trail and turn too quickly to the left or go too far to the right, you will be rimrocked. On a clear day, it is pretty easy to see the way, but that day was not a clear one. 

Riding through the snow, in time, we could just make out the faint shadow of that landmark tree.  Finding it meant we were – thankfully – still on course. Though my sister may not admit it, neither of us was sure which way to go next, but we trusted our father, he had been this way many times before.  

I will pick back up on this story a bit later. But the immediate lesson for me as a young boy was that the best course in a challenging time is to stay calm, use common sense, and not be tempted to turn too sharply left or right. It is a lesson I applied during my first term as Governor. 

Auditor Kristi Racines, Treasurer Curt Meier thank you both for your teamwork. Four years ago, we stood in the pre-dawn hours to take our oaths of office in this very spot. You remember, at the time, this was a construction zone. If you look up the four statues above us had yet to arrive. I think we can all agree they add value and meaning to this grand building. 

To the northwest stands Truth, she lights the way forward. In the northeast corner, Justice is ready for those who fail to follow Truth’s light. Together they frame the historic chamber where our State Constitution was signed. Across the way, to the southeast, Courage stands resolute while Hope patiently occupies the southwestern niche.  

These are the virtues that have helped Wyoming and our country weather so many trials and tribulations along the trail these past few years. Today, I pledge this administration’s continuing belief in – and commitment to – these four virtues.  

As Governor, I am privileged to work in this building and be surrounded by outstanding staff and I also appreciate the hard working Wyoming state employees in every corner of the state. 

I want to offer a special recognition to our Congressional delegation. Congresswoman Liz Cheney thank you. Senator Cynthia Lummis and Congresswoman-elect Harriett Hageman, and I have sometimes contested for the same office in spirited campaigns.  But, I am so proud that after the voters spoke, we came together to work for what is in the best interest of Wyoming. That is the way life is in Wyoming and the way politics should be nationally. It has also been a distinct privilege to serve with Senator John Barrasso. He has always been a strong and steady hand in helping guide our nation, and a powerful voice for individual freedom and rights as well as Wyoming’s values and interests.   

It has been an honor to work with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho nations. I am proud of the progress we have made toward common goals. 

Secretary of State Chuck Gray and Superintendent Megan Degenfelder, congratulations to you both and thank you for your willingness to serve. You follow great men and women who made important contributions to our state.  I want to note the willingness of Secretary of State Karl Allred and Superintendent Brian Schroeder to fill the vacancies of these important offices.   

I thank former governors who have been so helpful, Matt Mead, Dave Freudenthal, Jim Geringer and Mike Sullivan. Each left a lasting legacy.  Whether Republican or Democrat, all had a singular focus — to make Wyoming a little better for their time here. We are grateful for their service. Governors Freudenthal and Geringer, thank you for being here.  

I also want to take a moment to thank those who have answered the call to defend our country. I ask those members of the Armed Forces to stand and be recognized.  Men and women from Wyoming serve with distinction in all branches of our military. They, and the families that are their support, understand better than most the commitment it takes to keep us free and safe in a dangerous world.  I ask that the Officers who are here today to make sure the men and women you command know how proud we are of them.  No state appreciates our veterans as Wyoming does, their service will never be forgotten. 

We will always honor and remember the lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice as well as those that have yet to come home.  

In particular, on this day we thank our first responders; firefighters, law enforcement and EMTs. Too many of them have given their lives in service to Wyoming’s people. Sadly, we have recently been reminded of the risks and dangers they face every day.    

We are also grateful for all good citizens who do their jobs with commitment; our teachers, snowplow drivers, social workers, healthcare workers, hospital staff and unsung heroes. In short, all of those committed to protecting our lives and homes; comforting us in crisis; and assuring that our kids and seniors are safe.

Turning to our judicial branch, Chief Justice Kate Fox, thank you for administering the oath of office and I thank your colleagues for being here from the Judicial Branch. Senator Ogden Driskill and Representative Albert Sommers – a huge thank you and to members of the Legislature for being here. Together we share a commitment to the people of Wyoming.

For the sake of all, this is a moment in history when we must come together. 

President Teddy Roosevelt spoke about this just down the street from here in 1903. He came to remind us of the words of the Apostle Matthew, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” 

Wyoming was only 13 years old when the President rode here from Laramie. Many assembled that day were veterans who had worn either the blue or the gray of the Civil War. Many still had memories of how divided our country was during that dark time. In his remarks that day, President Roosevelt emphasized the importance of unity, not division, in building a future, noting that, “We cannot afford, if we are going to make this Republic true to its promise, if we are to make its mighty future as essentially great as its past, we cannot afford as citizens to sunder in the deeper matters along lines other than the line of conduct which separates good citizens from bad citizens.”

Today, there are many outside influences seeking to divide us. We can see that President Roosevelt’s speech about citizenship was timely then and prophetic now. 

The undeniable fact is that our founders did not leave us a fire-and-forget, plug-and-play government.  Our government requires participation and effort and compromise. We must work together as we begin this next chapter.  

Citizenship is not aligning with one ideology or another.  It is a willingness to engage and respect each other. To get things done, we must reacquaint ourselves with the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. To listen as much as to advocate. Our nation was founded on dialogue more than dogma.  

Wyoming is a conservative state with an ingrained sense of independence and freedom. Her people have always had an abiding respect for one another. Our aim should always be for Wyoming to chart her path independent of political fashion, or popular trend.

To be sure, there will be times of strain and stress, but our core Wyoming values have and will always persevere and see us through. They are so intrinsic to our nature that we enshrined them in our pioneering Constitution: Article 1. Section 1. Power inherent in the people. Section 2. Equality of all. Section 3.  Equal political rights. 

On this day, we stand united and ready to seize our future as Wyoming people have always done, with courage, confidence, and conviction. 

Over the next four years we will focus on building our future by emphasizing four fundamental pillars.

First, our government must be responsive, responsible and accountable. As a Republican, I believe in limited government that is closest to the people. Staying on that trail while emphasizing economic opportunity, free enterprise, and personal responsibility has always been a recipe for success. But, that success must never come at the expense of our most vulnerable. In Wyoming, we take care of our own.

Second, our economy must diversify and grow and education must continue to innovate and transform.  We will remain committed to refining and reducing regulation to unbridle entrepreneurship and economic development.  And we will redouble our efforts to rethink education to better equip our students, citizens, industries, and our workforce to be more successful, more skilled, more ambitious, and increasingly ready to meet the challenges of our time. The future of our state is our children and grandchildren.  Good education means strong, engaged families.  They are the heartbeat of our state.

Third, I call on each of us to advocate for and protect our Wyoming values. We must always stand up for what makes Wyoming so wonderful, our people, exquisite wildlife, open and wild spaces, vibrant energy, abundant agriculture,the pursuit of equality for all, respect for one another, and helping each other in times of need. These values are enduring to Wyoming and we cannot afford to lose them to the intemperance of heated rhetoric on social media or the inflammatory divisiveness of those selfishly seeking political gain. It is imperative our young people are not distracted, and made aware of these values and their obligation to protect them in the decades ahead, when they become our leaders.

And fourth, we must seize the day.  Wyoming’s time is now.  Wyoming energy powers the nation. Science and engineering are poised for trailblazing advances that will transform technology, natural resource management, outdoor recreation, and agriculture.  Wyoming is the tip of the spear.  While others fiddle for answers, Wyoming is ready to solve the challenges of our time – not with talk but with action. 

To Wyoming, I say we will not be deterred by any obstacles. As Governor, I commit to use every power I have to protect Wyoming’s interests and potential.   

I believe that Wyoming’s greatest days are ahead of us. And know this — the building of our future is in our hands — the tough and resourceful working men and women of Wyoming.  

Let me close by sharing the reason why I am so optimistic about Wyoming’s future – by finishing my story about that long-ago ride on a cold and snowy day.

Despite the storm, we found our way to the valley where our ranch lies. We and our horses were tired and cold; but the clouds lifted and sensing home our horses picked up their gait, and our hearts were warmed at the sight of the barn and the lights of our house.  We knew our family was waiting with dry clothes and warm food.  We knew we were home.

When I come home to my family, my heart is warmed just like all those years ago.  Without the love and support of my family I could never have accepted this responsibility.  

Jennie, you have been and always will be the light of my life. And an incredible mother and grandmother to our kids and grandchildren. My love for you is endless. 

You know how important it is that Wyoming’s less fortunate have a warm meal.  Your commitment to end food insecurity in Wyoming has made such a difference for so many in this state.  

For Jennie and for me, our family is a source of amazing joy and happiness.  And it is a big one, many of whom are here today. Family is what keeps us grounded. Aaron, Anne, Spencer, and Bea, you are awesome and have added so many wonderful people to our family: Sarah, Austen, and Greg – you are simply the best.  I thank all of you for your love and support.  

And on this day, when we contemplate Wyoming’s future, I especially want to recognize  Everett, Violet, Eloise, and Crawford – our grandkids.  You each have been blessed to have Wyoming in your soul. You remind me every day, why the work we do in this building means so much. 

For all of us here today, we know what we do now and in the next several years matters for our children and the generations that follow.  Because after all, Wyoming too, is a family.  We have been given a great state, a great nation, and a great gift, and we know it is our responsibility to leave this world a little better for our time in it.\

God Bless America, God Bless Wyoming and keep her wild and free.  And may God’s wisdom guide our way forward.

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