Governor Strickland's Inaugural Address

Delivered Saturday Jan. 13 in Columbus.

My Fellow Ohioans:

Good morning. The scripture reminds us that today - like every day - is a day which the Lord has made. So let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I want to say thank you to Senator John Glenn, and his wonderful wife Annie, for co-chairing these inaugural events.

I'd like to thank Frances, my wife and my best friend. And all of my family here from Appalachian Ohio.

I want to thank Chief Justice Thomas Moyer for administering the oath of office. I'd like to thank the other justices from the Ohio Supreme Court for being here.

I'm happy to have my dear friend and Ohio's junior senator - Sherrod Brown - with me today.
I'd also like to recognize and thank our legislative leaders in attendance. President Harris, Speaker Husted, Leader Beatty and Leader Fedor - thank you all for your service and for the hard work ahead.

I'm here today – with humility and a deep sense of responsibility – to accept the mantle of leadership the people of Ohio have passed from governor to governor for more than two hundred years. I am fully conscious that I stand here today not as an individual speaking for himself, but as a representative chosen to speak for all Ohioans.

I approach this oath with both seriousness and hope. And I will embrace that sober optimism as I do the work of governor.

Because of that, I know full well that I won't be doing myself or the people of this state any favors by simply glossing over the challenges ahead. But I also know that I would be failing you as a governor if I focused only on those challenges and not our limitless potential.

A potential we can only achieve if we all come together - Republicans, Democrats, regardless of whether we live in one of Ohio's great cities or small towns - we are all Ohioans. We share common hopes, common dreams, and a common purpose.

* We all want health care for those who need it.
* We all want a solid education for our children.
* We want a system of higher education that is affordable and gives our kids the opportunity to remain in Ohio to raise their families - strong families, where moms and dads can have living wage jobs.
* We all want to honor the contributions of our parents and our grandparents so they can feel secure in their retirement years.
* We want safe and secure neighborhoods.
* We want to protect our natural environment and to ensure the health and safety of our children.
* We all want a government that provides services that are needed, but we also want the government to stay out of our lives when it has no right or reason to be there.
* We want the price we pay for a civilized society - our tax dollars - to be used
wisely - with proper respect for the hard work that has made them available.

Now the task ahead is to face our challenges honestly, but have enough faith in ourselves and each other to know that we can be the architects of Ohio's renewal.

In this winter morning air, we are greeted not only with the ceremonial passing of the torch, but with the reality of hard choices: the road of decline or the road of renewal. Neither route will be easy. But only one will lead to prosperity.

I am convinced that the road to renewal – the road to a new, vibrant, growing Ohio, begins with building a system of education which is relevant to the needs of all Ohioans from pre-school through college and beyond.

To paraphrase something George W. Bush said while governor of Texas: "education is to the state as national defense is to the survival of the nation."

Someone else has said that public education is America's gift to the world. That is certainly true. But each year it becomes clearer that the world may have come to value that gift and, perhaps, benefit from it more than we have.

Gone are the days when nations and states competed economically based on only regional natural resources or technological superiority. Today, the tools we compete with are the creativity and productivity of our own minds and talents. This reality should shock us from our complacency and compel us to action.

Though significant, the road to our renewal is not blocked by overregulation or lack of infrastructure, or even high taxes.

No, we are only being held back to the extent that our state fails, either from lack of investment or lack of innovation, to provide the opportunity for quality learning for every citizen.
If we believe this to be true, if we take it to heart, there is nothing – not a thing – that can stand in our way. But if we fail, no amount of political debate will make a difference.

The good news is that this insight is not a partisan one. I'm encouraged by the fact that our senate president and the speaker of the house, as well as our two Democratic leaders, are all are committed to rebuilding our economic vitality through the reform and the renewal of our education system.

We have much to learn from and to teach each other. I will gently remind my colleagues that public education is the foundation of our ability to succeed and that those efforts which weaken public education – even well-meaning efforts – can only serve to weaken our mission of rebuilding Ohio.

And I say public education because it is available to all and should provide excellence to all.
And I expect and will encourage my fellow public servants to remind me that the goal of making our schools and colleges work cannot be achieved with simply more and more money. We must be willing and brave enough to take bold steps to reform and renew the system of education itself. We must be willing to experiment and innovate until we find a method or methods that work for every child in Ohio.

But none of these things will happen as long as we wallow in the biases, prejudices and pettiness that have prevented us from engaging in good-faith negotiations to build common-sense solutions to the very difficult challenges that confront us.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, If all we do is argue about the past and the present, we will lose the future.

The Ohio character is one that seeks to find practical solutions to mankind's most complicated problems. We have it within our historical DNA to add significantly to the ledger of human achievement. But that depends on our ability today, both as Democrats and Republicans, to seize the moment.

To the cynics who say it can't be done, I say, in the words of the old Baptist preacher: "Get thee behind me, Satan."

And, appealing to the better angels of our nature, say:

free us from the shackles of self doubt;
free us from the curse of feeble expectations;
free us from the fear of failure that causes us to cling to the security of the status quo.

Show us the wisdom of Ronald Reagan, who said: "the term 'Status Quo' is Latin for 'the current mess we're in.'"

If we work at it, I know we can make the change we need.

Why do I have such faith in you, the people of Ohio?

Because I know you. For nearly the last 2 years, I have traveled the state, from back road to major highway. From warm, inviting small towns to our great, vibrant cities. And, again and again, I was welcomed, inspired and enlightened by you, my fellow citizens.

I want to speak directly to you and all the thousands of people I met and listened to during the campaign. I want you to know how much I appreciate what you had to say to me.

I want you to know that I've heard your anxieties and I will seek to calm them.

I want you to know that I heard your advice and found wisdom in it. I want you to know that I heard your dreams and will make them my own.

The road ahead may appear dark. But that darkness can be illuminated by our hard work and optimism.

It won't happen suddenly, not dramatically, but slowly and steadily and as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow.

To repeat what I said in one of my very first speeches to Ohioans more than a year ago:

At this very moment, across the fields of our farms, quietly echoing through the canyons of our cityscapes, and winding through a thousand Ohio Main Streets is the echo of hope.

It's muted hope. Hope without words. Raw hope ready to be put to purpose. And what does this hope say to us?

It says we can do better. It says that all the victories, all the invention, all the blinding light of innovation in Ohio's past are just a prelude to what is to come.

It's a silent hope. One that is perhaps just a whisper. A hope Ohio parents whisper to themselves when they put their children to bed at night. It is a hope that some of us may even be shy to admit, because in this world, cynicism is always safer than the risk of hope.

And what are the dividends of cynicism?

More corruption? Fewer jobs?

Less vision?

And what are the dividends of hope? Life. Light. Laughter.

An expanding future, filled with opportunity.

If we trust our future to the hopes and dreams of the average Ohioan, the dividend we'll see will be the return of Ohio's greatness.

Some might think this is just a dream. But look where the dreams of Ohioans have taken us before - Senator John Glenn knows - to the horizon and beyond.

Thank you and God Bless you and God Bless the great state of Ohio.

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