‘Our democracy is a constant work in progress.’ Shapiro sworn in as Pa.’s 48th governor

Shapiro issued a commitment to doing the ‘hard and necessary’ work to strengthen democracy, saying everyone can contribute

By: - January 17, 2023 2:56 pm

Gov. Josh Shapiro is sworn into office with First Lady Lori Shapiro and his family at his side. Harrisburg, PA – Tuesday, January 17, 2023 (Commonwealth Media Service photo).

Josh Shapiro was sworn in as the 48th governor of Pennsylvania on Tuesday afternoon, vowing to listen and be a voice for the people of Pennsylvania.

The 49-year-old Democrat, who most recently served as attorney general, was sworn in surrounded by family, state and federal lawmakers, and former governors — placing his hand on three Jewish Bibles — as Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Debra Todd administered the oath of office.

“I am humbled to stand before you today as Pennsylvania’s 48th governor,” Shapiro said to a crowd of hundreds outside the Capitol’s East Wing. “Along the winding road that led to this moment, I’ve been grounded in my faith and family.”

Roughly a dozen guests — including abortion rights advocates, survivors of childhood sexual abuse, victims of wage theft, parents of children killed by gun violence, and the widows of two state troopers killed in the line of duty — joined Shapiro on stage.

During his 23-minute inaugural address, Shapiro emphasized stories and requests from voters while he was on the campaign trail. However, he avoided outlining specific policy plans. He issued a commitment to doing the “hard and necessary” work to strengthen democracy, saying everyone can contribute.

“From God’s Country to Gettysburg, I heard you when you said you want good schools for our kids, safe communities, and an economy that gives people a shot and lifts them up,” he said. “You also sent a clear message — Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — when you came together to resoundingly reject extremism.”

Shapiro campaigned with Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, who took the oath of office about two hours before Shapiro in the Senate chamber, becoming the state’s first Black lieutenant governor. The duo campaigned across Pennsylvania in the build-up to the general election, focusing on rural areas often overlooked by Democrats, and offered a platform that appealed to voters of all backgrounds.

Beating Republican Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Trump ally, Shapiro won more votes than any other gubernatorial candidate in state history. Though sticking to the middle on some issues while campaigning, Shapiro championed abortion access and election integrity.

On Tuesday, Shapiro stopped to address those who didn’t vote for him, saying he will work “every day to be a governor for all Pennsylvanians.”

He succeeds Gov. Tom Wolf, who staked his legacy on increased education funding and exercised his veto pen against bills sent to his desk from the Republican-controlled General Assembly. Shapiro thanked Wolf for his service, saying he left Pennsylvania stronger.

“You see, in every chapter of this Pennsylvania story, we got better. We got stronger. We got more tolerant,” Shapiro said. “Our story is one of progress and prosperity, and today, we come together under the banner of this new administration to write our next chapter with a keen understanding of our history and the voices that will guide our future.”

Shapiro and Davis promised to build an administration that “looks like Pennsylvania,” putting aside political parties for the betterment of the state. So far, their cabinet includes a variety of individuals with diverse professional and political backgrounds. During Tuesday’s ceremony, Shapiro acknowledged legislative leaders from both parties and said he “looked forward to making progress together.”

“Now is the time to join together behind the unifying strength of three simple truths that have sustained our nation over the past two-and-a-half centuries — that above all else, beyond any momentary political differences — we value our freedom; we cherish our democracy, and we love this country,” Shapiro said.

The Shapiro-Davis administration begins as the state House has been unable to organize due to partisan disagreement, and Republican lawmakers have proposed constitutional amendments to curtail some executive branch power.

In a statement issued after the ceremony, House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, said Shapiro offered policy proposals “that provided a path to bipartisan accomplishment and real progress for our shared goals.”

“As we look ahead, it is our hope that Gov. Shapiro governs under that same spirit and with a true willingness to find common ground,” Cutler said.

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