MADISON, Wis. (AP/WMTV) -- Tony Evers became the state’s new governor during a swearing-in ceremony at the capitol at noon on Monday.
Evers thanked Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch during his inaugural address.
“I want to thank Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch and their families for their service to our state. I also want to thank my wife, Kathy, and my family, for their relentless support from Tomah to Verona to standing here today and everywhere in between—I love you all. Thank you,” said Evers.
Evers added, “And finally, to the people of Wisconsin. I’m humbled to be here today as a kid who grew up in Plymouth, met my wife in kindergarten, took her to junior prom, and went from scraping the mold off of cheese to teaching science to becoming state superintendent to now standing here before you. I’m grateful for your trust in me and the opportunity and privilege to serve you and our state. Thank you.”
Evers talked about how he spent the past year traveling across Wisconsin talking about the issues that matter the most to the people here at home.
“We talked about how what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state. And that means we need to fully fund our public schools at every level, so that every kid in our state has access to a quality education—no matter what the zipcode—from all-day pre-k to our university and technical college systems. We talked about making sure that healthcare is affordable and accessible and protects people who have pre-existing conditions. We talked about gravel roads, potholes, and bridges, and why we cannot wait any longer for a sustainable solution to our transportation crisis,” explained Evers.
The mood surrounding the Capital was positivity and optimism moving forward. Evers' focus was on the future, and trying to smooth out some of the bumps heand Republican lawmakers have already been dealing with since he was elected into office. Last month, Republicans passed laws trying to limit Evers' powers however, Evers' said disagreements are just one of the many challenges that come with the job, and he is confident everyone at the capitol can move forward together.
"We have significant challenges facing our state, and we will no doubt face setbacks in the days ahead. But we are more than the sum of our differences, and what unites us is far greater than what divides us," said Evers.
Five former Wisconsin governors attended the swearing-in ceremony of Tony Evers.
The former governors are among the dignitaries that attended the Monday inauguration of Evers and other state officials elected in November.
The former governors that attended are Scott Walker, Jim Doyle, Scott McCallum, Tommy Thompson and Martin Schreiber. The only living governor not scheduled to attend is Tony Earl.
Evers took the oath of office from Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Pat Roggensack. All other statewide constitutional officers, along with newly elected members of the Legislature, were also sworn in.
State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski was the first one to take her oath in the inauguration ceremony. Godlewski said, “In Wisconsin, our motto is forward and today we need to move forward. We need to invest widely in our state’s future.”
Secretary of State Doug La Follette said after he was sworn into office, “I look forward to serving you the next four years, this is Wisconsin and our motto is forward.”
Josh Kaul was sworn into office as the new Attorney General as his wife and young child stood next to him. Kaul said, “Let’s also recognize that there are issues that demand attention and the different perspectives can help us.”
Kaul's plans include expanded work to fight the opioid crisis, prevent future rape kit backlogs, and ensuring resources for the criminal justice system. The fourth point of keeping children safe was the most popular with the crowd.
"I'm calling for universal background check on fire arms," said Kaul.
He said more than 4 million students hadto undergo a lockdown at some point last year, and while he applauds the funding for school safety passed last year, more needs to be done.
Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes was sworn in. Barnes is the first African American to hold the position and is only 32-years-old. He asked all to strive to make a difference. “A person’s income never determines their destiny. We are creating an entirely new chapter for the state of Wisconsin,” said Barnes.
Evers ended by saying,” I have never been more hopeful about our state and our kids' future as I stand here today. We must dare greatly to go forward in the face of adversity and uncertainty. We must dare to make space for hope here once again. And today, we turn toward the future and we move forward, together.” He added, “Let’s polka tonight and get to work tomorrow.”
Representative Jon Plumer, from the Lodi area said GOP Members are ready to worker with Evers, they've even inted him to Caucus meetings to talk directly.
"Well I think we have numerous issues we can work together on certainly clean water..We're all concerned about that...pre-existing healthcare conditions -I would like to see that passes as job one...so I think we have a lot of common ground we can work together on," said Plumer.
Opening remarks were made by emcee, Nick Robinson. Robinson thanked all the per-ceremony performers.
The pre-ceremony performers included: Latino Arts Strings Program, Eau Claire HS Madrigal Singers, Tomah High School Band, William J Reed Community Choir and 132nd Army Nat'l Guard Band. The ceremony began at 11:00 a.m.
For the first time since Jim Doyle left office in 2011, Wisconsin will have a Democratic governor.
Gov. Evers signed his first Executive Order Wednesday, requiring state agencies to develop anti-discrimination polices against sexual orientation or gender identity. The Evers Administration said it will also create a model anti-discrimination policy.
Following the signing, Gov. Evers issued a statement on social media saying in part, "Each person in Wisconsin deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This fosters sound Government, society, and business, and its jut the right thing to do."
An inaugural ball follows the official events Monday night at 7:00 p.m. in Madison.