By Zach Osowski
Braving temperatures in the 20s, Gov. Mike Pence took the oath
to serve as Indiana's 50th governor Monday, promising in his speech to keep
Indiana on its current path of fiscal responsibility so that the state can be a
"torch" for other states to follow.
"This is our time to shine," Pence, a Republican, said
as more than 1,500 onlookers bundled in hats, gloves and heavy coats looked on.
"Our state is poised for greatness."
The new governor sat in President William Henry Harrison's chair
during much the ceremony and he used a Bible that belonged to President
Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson administered the oath to
Pence, as well as Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and
Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
Among the onlookers were former governors Mitch Daniels, a
Republican, and Evan Bayh, a Democrat. Pence thanked
them both for their leadership and Daniels especially for his eight years of
service. He said that Daniels put Indiana on a track that makes it the envy of
many other states.
"It's a good thing I'm only succeeding you, because no one
will ever replace you," Pence said to Daniels.
While Pence is saving most of his legislative agenda for the
upcoming State of the State address on Jan. 22, he did mention a few things
about the budget and education.
"We must continue to live within our means," Pence
said. "Hold the line on spending. And let Hoosiers keep more of their hard
earned income. We dare not squander this opportunity. We want to leave our
communities and families better."
He talked about the challenges of education and said that they
can fix the problems with the system. He said that his wife, Karen, who is a
teacher, never fails to remind him that Indiana has the very best teachers.
"We must work together to put kids first," Pence said.
"There's nothing that ails our schools that can't be fixed by giving
parents more choices and teachers more freedom to teach."
Democrats said they were looking forward to working with Pence
during this session and seeing what steps he will take during his first term.
"We look forward to seeing his full legislative agenda
soon," said Dan Parker, chair of the Indiana Democratic Party. "We
hope it will focus, as he pledged, on jobs and the economy and not on issues
that will divide our state."
Pence said that Indiana is "the heart of the heartland"
and that the men and women who made the territory a state were hard working
individuals. He also spoke at length about Indiana's flag, saying the torch
emblazoned in the center signified light in a dark
time for the nation. He said that once again, Indiana is poised to be a light
for other states to follow.
"For many Americans, today is another time of uncertainty,"
Pence said. "It is a time where the disconnect between those who serve and
the served has never seemed wider. But not here in Indiana.
Indiana has chosen a different course."
Union protestors could be heard shouting down the street from
the inaugural ceremony. They were upset at changes the Department of Workforce
Development recently made.
"We had already planned this day to come out and protest,"
president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local
3826. "We forgot about the inauguration."
Pence said he was thankful for the trust Hoosiers had put in him
and promised to honor that trust.
"The time is now and the air is cold," Pence said. "So
let's get back inside and get to work. The best is yet to come."
After the ceremony, Pence and Ellspermann
went into the governor's office and signed documents making the transition into
their respective offices official.
Zach Osowski is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news
website powered by Franklin College journalism students.