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Jared Polis was sworn in as Colorado’s 43rd Governor on Tuesday morning in an inauguration ceremony that celebrated diversity and championed civil rights. Polis, the Centennial State’s first gay and Jewish governor, addressed his historic governorship from a podium on the west steps of the State Capitol adorned with a rainbow flag. Behind him hung bright blue banners proclaiming, “Colorado for All.”
“I am grateful and forever indebted to those who came before me—who struggled for equal rights, who stepped up for public service in all its forms, who made difficult sacrifices and worked faithfully toward a brighter future for our state, our nation, and our world,” he said.
Polis, a successful technology entrepreneur who previously served 10 years in Congress representing Colorado’s second district and six years on the Colorado State Board of Education, shared a positive outlook for the Centennial State. After cannons fired to commemorate his swearing in, Polis took a selfie with the crowd, which extended into Civic Center Park on a cold but clear-skied day.
In his inauguration speech, Polis reiterated his bold campaign goals to establish universal healthcare, provide free full-day kindergarten for Colorado children, move the state to renewable energy by 2040, and lower individual income taxes, although he gave few details about how he plans to implement those objectives. Polis promised more specifics in his State of the State address to the Colorado General Assembly on Thursday.
In stark contrast to the nation’s “growing divisiveness and rising tribalism,” highlighted by a partial shutdown of the federal government, Polis set Colorado apart as a collaborative state that embraces individual differences. He pointed to the state legislature, where voters elected record numbers of women, Latino, and LGBTQ members, and recalled his meetings with rural and metro voters across the state during his campaign. “Diversity makes our state healthier and more prosperous,” Polis said. “We respect each other’s rights, sharing a common faith in our abilities and our future, while having real conversations about how to make progress.”
As President Donald Trump prepared to address the nation on what he calls the “crisis at the border” on Tuesday night, the Reverend Dr. James D. Peters, Jr. a retired pastor of Denver’s New Hope Baptist Church and former member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, directly challenged the White House’s stance on immigration during his invocation. “Lady Liberty weeps because some very important people want to quench her lamp.” he said.
In a press conference following the inauguration ceremony, Polis said he was ready to stand up to Trump on day one of his new administration. “If he is cooking up a fictitious border crisis that doesn’t exist, I will certainly push back with the reality that in Colorado and across the country, immigrants benefit our economy, they improve our quality of life, and they are critical for our continued economic growth,” he said.
Further celebrating diversity, the swearing-in ceremony included a Sikh blessing by Head Priest Bhai Satinder Singh of the Sikh Temple, a Native American blessing by Terry Knight, spiritual leader of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and a performance by the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus.
Also sworn in Tuesday were new Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, Attorney General Phil Weiser, Treasurer Dave Young, and Secretary of State Jena Griswold. Although Democrats hold every state seat for the first time in 70 years, as well as control the State House and Senate, Polis made a point of embracing political differences. “There will always, always be seats at the table for those with constructive input,” he said.
What unites Coloradans across their many differences, added Polis, is both an optimistic sprit and a shared economic uncertainty as the state continues to grow and its cost of living continues to rise. Although what he plans to do to provide economic relief is still under wraps, Polis shared more details about how he plans to lead: With an entrepreneurial ethos of solving problems through creativity and hard work.
“Though our perspectives may differ, we will create solutions together,” said Polis. “We will always value bold ideas and new approaches. We will never, ever be outworked. We will never be slowed by indecision or held back by fear. We will never be stunted by a lack of imagination. And we will pursue our goals always with joy, with optimism, and with endless faith in the people of Colorado.”