Jay Inslee officially became Washington state’s 23rd governor at a swearing-in ceremony Wednesday morning inside the state Capitol building.
Breaking with tradition, the new governor took the oath of office in the rotunda of the Capitol, addressing supporters and onlookers in a brief speech afterwards.
“Let’s go build a working Washington,” Inslee said to loud applause, before hugging his wife, Trudi.
The oath was administered by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen.
Beforehand, well-known environmental leader Denis Hayes offered a few remarks.
“Jay didn’t run for office because he really, really, really wanted to be governor,” said Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation. “He ran for office ,because he really, really, really wanted to get some important stuff done.”
Hayes, who is credited with founding Earth Day, said that “more than any other president or governor” in history, Inslee has a mandate to address climate change.
About 250 people watched the proceedings, sitting on the steps to the legislative chambers or jostling for prime viewpoints along the rails of the surrounding balconies. A Bainbridge Island High School music band blared ceremonial music as Inslee exited.
Inslee was scheduled address a joint session of the Legislature at 11:30 a.m.
The Democrat enters office two days into a 105-day legislative session in which lawmakers will have to close a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall and respond to a state Supreme Court order to increase education funding. Inslee has pledged to do all of that without raising taxes, although fellow Democrats are skeptical that it can be done.
Inslee, a 61-year-old longtime congressman born in Seattle, defeated Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna in the November election. He succeeds Chris Gregoire, a Democrat who gave her final State of the State address Tuesday.
The new governor will celebrate his inauguration with a basketball game Wednesday afternoon and a formal inaugural ball Wednesday evening. Some 5,000 people are expected to attend the ball.