In his first speech as governor, Jared Polis, the first openly gay governor in U.S. history, offered a vision of an inclusive state that's bolstered by its diversity.
"We as a people have decided that there’s no reason to let our differences divide us. Rather, we’ve embraced the idea that of course no two people are exactly alike. But we’ve decided to celebrate our differences. They make us stronger. Colorado for all," Polis told the crowd at his inauguration ceremony today, January 8.
That rhetoric echoed throughout the inauguration ceremony, as speaker after speaker praised the importance of diversity and Colorado remaining a welcoming state. Some even took jabs at the White House and its divisive rhetoric and controversial policies.
“Today, Lady Liberty weeps because some very powerful people quench the light of her lamp," said Reverend Dr. James D. Peters Jr. of New Hope Baptist Church.
Although Polis will give his first State of the State address on Thursday, January 10, the newly inaugurated governor did lay out some of his main policy priorities, including education, health care, an inclusive economy, clean air and water, and renewable energy.
The ceremony gave outgoing governor John Hickenlooper a chance to reflect on his time in office. "It was so cold," Hickenlooper joked about his inauguration day eight years ago, a stark contrast to the sunny day Polis got.
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Hickenlooper went on to describe some of the challenges of his first four years, like the Aurora theater shooting and the 2013 floods. And he said Colorado has come a long way since he took office. "Today, I think we're looked up to," he said.
Not inclined to steal any attention from Polis, Hickenlooper remained mum about his possible presidential campaign. "Thank you for taking a chance on me. And one last time, giddyup," he said.
A Ute spiritual leader, a Sikh priest, a Baptist reverend and a rabbi all offered their blessings for the new governor. The crowd particularly liked and applauded the ceremony performed by Terry Knight, the Ute spiritual leader, who blessed Polis; his husband, Marlon Reis; their two children; and Hickenlooper's son, Teddy, with feathers and smoke.
Phil Weiser, Jena Griswold and Dave Young were sworn in as attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer, respectively. Other ceremony attendees included outgoing attorney general Cynthia Coffman. Outgoing secretary of state Wayne Williams wasn't in the crowd, and Polis's Republican challenger, Walker Stapleton, said he wanted to come but had been summoned for jury duty.