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Whitmer, Gilchrist Inaugural Remarks

January 1, 2019

Whitmer, Gilchrist Inaugural Remarks

LANSING -- Please see below for inaugural remarks from Lieutenant Governor-elect Garlin Gilchrist II and Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer as prepared for delivery today.

Lieutenant Governor-elect Garlin Gilchrist II

The steps we stand upon this morning are more than the pathway to the chambers of lawmaking and halls of collaboration. 

They are stopping points that we, as Michiganders, gather upon every few years to define the goals and promises our state will pursue. 

Platforms upon which we pause to examine our past from above as we look to the future ahead with open eyes and open hearts. 

Rungs of the ladder of aspiration that we climb day by day to make life better for all of the people who call Michigan home. 

It is with those people in mind, my fellow Michiganders, that we stand before you with open minds and open hands. From Detroit, to Dexter, to Delta county, let us choose to lock arms and walk forward together in the spirit of peace and love, upon one accord, into our shared and connected destiny.

Let us choose to leave no cry for help unheard, no call for empathy unanswered, and no opportunity for collaboration on the table. 

Thank you to the millions of people who stepped up to participate in our democratic process by voting, volunteering, conversing, and caring about our state. We are all here thanks to you.

We do not ascend these steps alone. 

We are lifted here via the visions of the indigenous people, immigrants, and travelers who planted the seeds of their future in our fertile soil, giving rise to the bounty, beauty, and innovation that set our state apart.

Lifted by the dreams of grandparents like mine, who migrated here from Alabama, Arkansas, and all across the world in search of opportunity. In Michigan, they found finding this pleasant peninsula that marks God’s handprint on our planet. 

Lifted by the sweat of parents like mine, who believed that Michigan was where their sacrifices would lead to success for their only child. 

I stand here alongside my wife Ellen, who I cannot thank enough for being my my motivator and foundation. And my children, Garlin and Emily, who’s imaginations inspire me to want to enable the imagination and possibility that exist within every person in our state. 

Yes, we have specific problems to solve and specific issues to address. 

Regardless of our political affiliations or sensibilities, it is up to all of us to participate in leadership and governance in Michigan. 

But today, as we reposition our hands on the arc of history, let us remember that the strongest bridges that connect us are rooted in equity, justice, and honesty. If we choose these values today and everyday, we, together, will move Michigan forward and leave it better than we found it.

God bless you. And God bless the great state of Michigan. 

Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer

My friends, my family, my fellow Michiganders: 

It is an incredible honor to address you as the 49th governor of the great state of Michigan. 

I would not be here today without my family. Sherry, Sydney, Marc, Dad, Liz, Richard: 

Thank you for being by my side on this journey and for inspiring me every day. I love you so much. 

I am honored to be joined this morning by Governors Snyder, Granholm, and Blanchard. 

If the Spartans weren’t on the West Coast and if Governor Milliken were able, there’s no question that he and Governor Engler would be here, too. 

Each knows the incredible opportunity in  - and sacrifice of - holding this office. Thank you for your service and you attendance today.

As I reflect on the monumental task that lies ahead, another one of my predecessors comes to mind. 

Over 60 years ago, Governor G. Mennan Williams - aka “Soapy” Williams – a Democrat – worked with a Republican legislature to build the Mackinac Bridge.

At the time, many people believed building a suspension bridge that long was not possible. Others thought the politicians would not be able to put their differences aside to get it done. They even called it “Soapy’s Folly.” 

But together, leaders from both parties, and workers from across the state, proved them all wrong. And in November 1957, against the odds, the Mighty Mac opened. 

It connected our peninsulas AND our people. It strengthened our economy. And most of all, it sent a powerful message to the world: Don’t ever bet against Michigan.  

In the spirit of that great legacy, I want to recognize the incoming legislative leadership – Senate Majority Leader Shirkey; Senate Democratic Leader Ananich; House Speaker Chatfield; and House Democratic Leader Greig – and all of the members of the legislature who are with us today. I look forward to working with you in the coming weeks and months. 

We may belong to different parties, but we are all here for the same reason. We are proud Michiganders, first and foremost.  And we owe it to the people we serve to cast partisanship aside. To roll up our sleeves. To build bridges together. 

I feel lucky to have called Michigan home, my whole life. I grew up in Grand Rapids. I learned to value community and hard work.  I got a world-class education at Michigan State in East Lansing. And law school in Detroit. And then I moved back to East Lansing, near my family. I always knew I would raise my family here. 

Because to me, Michigan is more than a place. It’s a way of life. 

Up North and the lakes in summer. Football in the fall. Hunkering down at home in the winter.  Or at the capitol with thousands of your close friends!

And thawing out in the spring . . . if we’re lucky.

We love our 4 seasons. We’re proud of our traditions. 

Of course, what truly makes Michigan special are the people who call it home. Our diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences that strengthen the fabric of our communities – from paczki to pasty… and from miner to motorhead. 

And whether you live in Gogebic County, Grosse Ile or Grand Rapids, all Michiganders share some common traits that are part of the legacy we’ve inherited in the state we call home.

Grit. Humility. Dreaming up something new. Building it with our own two hands. 

That’s how we became a hotbed of innovation and created music that moved the world.

It’s why Michigan will be forever associated with names like Reuther, Ford, and Aretha. 

And it’s why, a century after we led a global manufacturing revolution, we still have the best workforce on the planet – from our farmers and factory workers, to our incredible state employees, who work tirelessly every day to keep Michigan going strong. There’s no place in the world like Michigan. 

No people like Michiganders. 

And no question that Michigan has as much God-given potential as any place on Earth. 

But while potential is universal, opportunity is not. 

And right now, in Michigan, too few have the opportunity they deserve. That’s not easy to admit, but we have to be clear-eyed about the challenges we face. 

Now is the time to confront our problems head-on and say – in one voice – let's get it done. 

Over the past year, as I traveled the state and listened to people’s concerns, the same issues came up over and over and over again. 

My campaign slogan got a lot of attention, but I didn’t come up with it. It was a working mom I met at a hospital in Detroit who told me, “Gretchen, I just want you to fix the damn roads.” 

I heard similar messages from people in all 83 counties. I heard the same thing from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. 

We might live in divisive times, but Michigan’s problems are not partisan problems. 

Potholes are not political. Neither is clean water. Or better skills. Or great schools for our kids. 

I will be a governor for everyone. 

And I am committed to working across party lines to ensure that all Michiganders have opportunity. 

That means rebuilding our roads and bridges. Cleaning up our water. And ensuring that everyone gets the education and skills they need to compete for good-paying jobs.

These issues affect us all. 

These things are the foundation of secure families, strong communities, and a more prosperous state.

None of us can afford to compromise Michigan’s economic future because we won’t compromise with one another. 

Divided government makes solving problems harder, but not impossible.

We need to come together now – not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Michiganders.

So, let’s fix our roads, and be the state that’s not paralyzed by partisanship, but works together. 

And create the blueprint for rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure. 

Let’s show the rest of the country how to solve America’s literacy crisis, and show them what good government actually looks like.

And let’s build a stronger Michigan that is – once again – a center of economic opportunity and mobility for people around the world.   

I’m not saying it's going to be easy. Many will question whether we can protect our families and bolster our economy by fixing those damn roads. They may not believe we have the ingenuity to solve the literacy crisis. And no doubt, some are betting against our ability to close the skills gap.    

But we are up to it, Michigan.

We have always defied the odds.  And we are going to do it again, together. We are going to prove that our shared future is more powerful than the issues that divide us.

If we put our differences aside and get to work, we will come back stronger than ever. 

At a time when too many people want to separate us by building walls, we here in Michigan are going to get back to building bridges together. 

The story of the Mackinac Bridge reminds us that we can do great things when we work together.

I know I didn’t get here on my own. 

I’m here because, over the past year, the people of Michigan showed up. 

At town halls, at rallies, and in record numbers on Election Day. 

I am so grateful that you did. But our work is just beginning. 

That’s why, today, I’m asking you to keep showing up. 

Keep showing your passion for our state – and demanding action from our leaders. 

And let’s join forces, as Michiganders, to build bridges together… 

Over waters. Between parties. And to a brighter future for all.

Let's get to work Michigan!   

Thank you.