Governor Gordon Outlines His Vision for Seizing the Future in Inaugural Address

January 7, 2019

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Laying out his vision for Wyoming in his first inaugural address, Governor Mark Gordon called for fiscal prudence, growing communities rather than government, and a focus on innovation for the future.

Governor Gordon took the oath on his family’s Bible with his wife Jennie at his side. Then delivered his first inaugural address to the resounding applause from a crowd of over 900 family, friends, state and local leaders, students, supporters and citizens.

“I believe from the bottom of my heart that Wyoming can reach new heights and be a beacon for others. We can lead the way into a bright future if we focus on the world we want our grandchildren to inherit even as we address the issues of this day,” said Governor Gordon.

“Looking back at the wisdom and prudence of those that came before us and reflecting on the potential of future generations, I believe more than ever that Wyoming is in a position to develop solutions to global challenges. Those solutions will be rooted in our sense of place, our home, the things we hold dear. Wyoming will continue to be a place that unleashes the ambition and potential of her people.”

Wyoming Chief Justice Michael K. Davis administered the oath of office to Governor Gordon and to Secretary of State Edward Buchanan, Auditor Kristi Racines, Treasurer Curt Meier, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow during the public ceremony at the Cheyenne Civic Center at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, January 7, and at a small ceremony inside the State Capitol earlier that morning.

Governor Gordon outlined his vision of how Wyoming could seize the future from behind a wooden podium, a surprise gift made by his son Spencer Young with artwork of the Capitol done by his childhood friend Jim Clayton. The governor plans to release details of his priorities in the upcoming State of the State Address, scheduled for January 9 during the Joint Session of the 65th Wyoming Legislature.

The ceremony concluded with a surprise performance from two local bagpipers, a nod to Governor Gordon's Scottish heritage.

Dignitaries on stage included Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court Michael Davis; US Senator Mike Enzi and Diana Enzi; US Senator John Barrasso; US Representative Liz Cheney; Ambassador Mike Sullivan and First Lady Jane Sullivan; Governor Jim Geringer; Governor Dave Freudenthal and Judge Nancy Freudenthal; Governor Matt Mead and First Lady Carol Mead; Supt. of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and John Balow; State Treasurer Curt Meier and Charlene Meier; State Auditor Kristi Racines and Torey Racines; Secretary of State Ed Buchanan and Amber Buchanan; Governor Gordon and First Lady Jennie Gordon.

“We live in complicated times, and the trust you have placed in me is daunting. But, I assume this office with confidence and with an unbounding faith in our people,” said Governor Gordon.

Fiscal prudence:

“I believe our best times will come when we assure a reliable and fiscally prudent future. We must recognize that not all wants are needs. How we separate these will be our toughest work in the coming years. We will have choices to make that relate to government spending. The services we have come to expect and in some cases depend on come with a price tag. We in Wyoming are not eager to take on new taxes and especially so if we haven’t done our best to control our expenditures first.”

Government efficiency:

“I believe that our government will need to become more efficient not just cheaper. We need to become more effective even as we become leaner. And we must invest in the people, programs, and systems that will make it all possible.”

Growing communities, not government:

“Rather than grow government, let us grow possibility in the places we live. Let us celebrate the shared responsibility of making our state a better place to be. To that end, my administration will work to assure that our towns and counties have the tools and resources they need to cultivate their own economies.”

A force for innovation:

“My administration will be a force for innovation. Following on the good work of the governors on this stage Wyoming will set a course to be a global leader on crucial matters like energy the environment water rural health care education senior care and sensible well-regulated government that seeks to preserve those principles enshrined in our constitutions.”

Educational excellence:

“Our kids went through the public school system, just as most of yours did. And I served on the local school board. So, I know firsthand that a one-size-fits-all approach to education will not do justice to the diversity of priorities and needs in districts around the state. I intend to nurture open and frequent communication lines with all our schools. To listen and respond appropriately to the needs of our different communities. And I’m eager to work together with educators and lawmakers to find a lasting solution to school funding that makes sense for Wyoming.”

For reference, the complete prepared remarks for Gov. Gordon’s first inaugural address are as follows:

Governor Mark Gordon’s Inaugural Address

(as prepared)

January 7, 2019

Thank you Governor Mead. It’s truly an honor to be introduced by someone I have come to know and for whom I, like so many in Wyoming, have tremendous respect.

I witnessed this firsthand last Friday as he addressed the deploying soldiers of Wyoming’s Golf Company. 29 of our finest men and women of a Medevac team with the impressive record of rescuing 1,500 injured soldiers over five deployments.

The respect they had for him and he had for them is obvious.

Before I get started, that song, “Forever West,” that Dave Munsick just sang. He sent it to me on January 25th of 2017. And this is what he wrote:

“Dear Mark,

I have attached my song, Forever West, that I wrote as a tribute to our state. I thought it might lighten things up a little for you and the folks you work with to help you to remember why you're working so danged hard right now.

Some day, after we're long gone - who knows - maybe the song will help future legislators get through their sessions!

In appreciation.”

Thank you Dave for that tribute to the great people who work for this state.

And this podium. My son made it for this occasion, and on the front here is artwork that my boyhood hunting and fishing buddy, Jim Clayton, did. They presented it to me yesterday. Thank you and thank you Dave Picard for the idea from your friendly neighborhood woodworker.

And now, here we are. I think I first realized the significance of this day near the end of November, when a friend asked me if I would add my signature to a print that had already been signed by a long list of Wyoming Governors, including all those here today.

As I looked at each of your signatures, two things came to mind. First, how appropriate it was for your signature, Governor Mead, to be there among them. And second, I hoped that one day mine would earn its place among the rest.

I say that because Jennie and I are so grateful to live in such a special place, to have been blessed to raise our family in Wyoming, and now to see our children begin their own families here. There is after all simply no better place to be a kid than here in Wyoming. We have the mountains, the rivers, the plains, the possibilities, the adventures, and most especially the people who have made this state what it is.

Wyoming has always had its share of extraordinary individuals. People with courage, imagination, and the gumption to make things happen.

The commitments by all of you to building a better future, to community, to our schools, to family, to our great outdoors, to economic opportunity and finding solutions, to all that makes our country what it is are beyond compare.

I am proud to be from Wyoming. I am also humbled and honestly awestruck to be here at this moment in our history.

Reaching our potential will not be easy. We have challenges ahead. But if our history teaches us anything it is that we in Wyoming are resourceful and that throughout our history our state has been blessed with pragmatic, effective, and strong leaders.

Senator Mike Enzi, Senator John Barrasso, and Congresswoman Liz Cheney. You all continue Wyoming’s tradition of excellent leadership in Washington. Godspeed! Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s please show our appreciation of the most powerful congressional delegation in the country!

To Secretary Buchanan, Auditor Racines, Treasurer Meier, and Superintendent Balow, congratulations to each of you on taking the oath of office today = both times.

This morning we had a chance to take an oath in the Capitol Rotunda in a very small ceremony limited by the circumstances of an active construction site. It was important to me that our terms begin in the people’s house and that they be affirmed here in this moment.

Thank you all for your willingness to put your name forward and to serve. I look forward to our work together.

You follow my friend Auditor Cynthia Cloud whose eye for detail, diligence, and dedication were an inspiration to those of us who served with her.

To my friends new and old in the Legislature, you have done great things, and together we have much more to do. I look forward to what we can accomplish.

You know delivering an inaugural address is challenging enough, but to have to do it following those who have spoken eloquently and passionately in this same ceremony is a bit intimidating. Ambassador and First Lady Sullivan - thank you for all you’ve done for Wyoming. Governor Geringer - we are all thinking of your First Lady and our prayers go out for her recovery. The two of you have meant so much to Wyoming. Judge Freudenthal, you and your husband, the Governor, who uncharacteristically resisted the urge to roast me today, thank you too for your lasting contributions to our state.

Governor and First Lady Mead, Jennie and I especially want to thank you and your family for your exceptional service to Wyoming. You have done good for Wyoming and well by her people. You certainly rode a long, long loop. You gathered successes from the far corners and still left us fresh horses.

I think everyone here knows it was a long election season with many good candidates, but I am especially grateful to the team of extraordinary individuals of all ages who had faith in the Gordon campaign and worked their tails off to make this day possible.

Jennie, you remember more than anyone how long this campaign trail was and I would not be here without your support and encouragement. Now those of you who know the First Lady might suspect she was only doing it to keep me out of the corral when we are working cattle. Even if that is true, I am honored to know that we will be working together to make sure Wyoming is all that she can be.

Jennie and I are eternally grateful for our family. Aaron, Megan, Bea, Austen, Anne, Bracewell, Spencer, and Sarah -- thank you for keeping us human and helping us to keep our eye on the future.

Some of you may know that Spencer and Sarah recently welcomed a son six days after the election. Everett is our first grandson. I know now that the weight I felt gazing at that picture with all the Governors’ signatures is the responsibility I feel to the people of this state and to Everett and his generation.

Perspective

Our state enjoys a rich history that sets a context for our prospects today. Historian T.A. Larson wrote that “Almost no part of the country has the opportunity now facing Wyoming: to demonstrate what America could have been if planners and developers had traded short-term profits for long-term gains.” How fitting a quote for us today.

I believe from the bottom of my heart that Wyoming can reach new heights and be a beacon for others. We can lead the way into a bright future if we focus on the world we want our grandchildren to inherit even as we address the issues of this day.

Growing up in Wyoming, you have to appreciate history. It is everywhere. In our rocks, in our towns, in our stories. If you grow up in Wyoming, than you know we have always been a leader. This year we celebrate the fact that 150 years ago Wyoming passed an act recognizing women’s right to vote, a first for our nation. We followed that by electing the country’s first female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross.

These are momentous achievements in our nation’s history. Wyoming earned her moniker as the Equality State by being bold and fair, something we plan to observe in a restored Capitol this coming December. We are rightfully proud of this legacy, and as we go into this anniversary year we must be mindful of living up to that reputation.

I grew up on a family ranch where I learned how valuable everyone in a family is and how much success hinges on everyone’s willingness to pitch in. As Governor, I will work tirelessly to make sure we work to give all our citizens, young and old, male and female, better, more secure lives.

How do we seize the future.

I believe in personal responsibility. I believe our best times will come when we assure a reliable and fiscally prudent future. We must recognize that not all wants are needs. How we separate these will be our toughest work in the coming years.

We will have choices to make that relate to government spending. The services we have come to expect, and in some cases depend on, come with a price tag. We in Wyoming are not eager to take on new taxes and especially so if we have not done our best to control our expenditures.

These are watershed times for Wyoming and I have and will continue to encourage balancing today’s wants against tomorrow's needs. In my prior role as Treasurer, I steadfastly warned against depleting our savings just to avoid making tough decisions today. I did so because our investment earnings are one of the top three sources of income, and arguably the most reliable -- just as Governor Stan Hathaway predicted in 1974.

I believe we will need to become more efficient not just cheaper. We need to become more effective, even as we become leaner, and we must invest in the people, programs, and systems that will make it all possible.

Governor Mead’s administration has worked to encourage diversification of our economy. The ENDOW initiative is built on the idea that a diverse economy is by definition less prone to boom and bust cycles. Still, we all recognize that a diversifying economy has its needs too, and some might be expensive.

A growing economy will require a workforce and an infrastructure to support it. And as we grow we will need to be ever vigilant that we do not lose the Wyoming way of life we cherish or the unique character of this place we call home.

Like so many in this room, I believe in government closest to the people and I believe in the power of community. Rather than grow government, let us grow opportunity in the places we live. Let us celebrate the shared responsibility of making our state a better place to be. To that end, my administration will work to assure that our towns and counties have the tools and resources they need to cultivate their own economies.

My administration will be a force for innovation. Following on the good work of the governors on this stage, Wyoming will set a course to be a global leader on crucial matters like energy, the environment, water, rural health care, education, senior care, and sensible, well-regulated government that seeks to preserve those principles enshrined in our constitutions.

Wyoming’s future depends on a robust, responsive, and pioneering education system. Jennie and our kids went through the public school system, just as most of yours did. And I served on the local school board as well. So, I know firsthand that a one-size-fits-all approach to education will not do justice to the diversity of priorities and needs in districts around the state. I intend to nurture open and frequent communication lines with all our schools, to listen and respond appropriately to the needs of our different communities. I am eager to work together with educators and lawmakers to find a lasting solution for school funding that makes sense for Wyoming.

Our flagship, the University of Wyoming, must become the envy of the nation in conjunction with the pioneering efforts of our community colleges by establishing flexible, responsive, and compelling educational opportunities for a wider spectrum of students young and old, career and scholarly, across the board.

Graduates of our schools can be proud of Wyoming’s leadership in energy, agriculture, technology and tourism.

Our energy and mineral industries are in a class by themselves. In fields like enhanced oil recovery, carbon capture and utilization, mine reclamation, and renewable energies. Ask yourself this - who has done it better than Wyoming? No one.

For that matter, our farmers and ranchers, working with researchers are responsibly leading the way on controlling invasive species like cheatgrass and conserving sensitive species like sage grouse, all while others fumble in the courts. We can do more.

In just this last year, Wyoming has become the envy of the nation for its innovative approach to Blockchain with new startups like BeefChain and SheepChain. We can do more.

Our world-class parks, open spaces, iconic wildlife and unique recreational opportunities invite travelers from all over the globe who are eager to experience them. How blessed are we to live here.

Folks come here and take home a little piece of the magic that is Wyoming. I’ve heard it over and over again from artists whose masterpieces were inspired by their time at the Ucross Foundation --- a historic Wyoming ranch that has become the premier artist-in-residence program in the country.

It is also a special place where ranching, stewardship, the arts, and energy development all come together to promote an understanding about our responsibilities here.

There is something about the birth of a grandchild that makes you think deeply about one’s time here. Looking back at the wisdom and prudence of those that came before us, and reflecting on the potential of future generations, I believe more than ever that Wyoming is in a position to develop solutions to global challenges. Those solutions will be rooted in our sense of place, our home, and the things we hold dear. Wyoming will continue to be a place that unleashes the ambition and potential of her people.

In closing, I cannot do justice to the humility and gratitude I feel to be standing here as your governor. We live in complicated times and the trust you have placed in me is daunting. But I assume this office with confidence and with an unbounding faith in our people.

With that sentiment in mind, I want to recognize those who have served our country in the military. And our first responders who work tirelessly to address those life-threatening moments we experience here at home. We need to also acknowledge their families who sacrifice so much.

I ask all veterans, members of the military, first responders and their families to rise and be recognized.

Let us remember to recognize these remarkable people not just now, but every single day. It is because of you that we are able to enjoy the freedoms we do, the safety we do. Thank you!

Finally, I am proud that we in Wyoming can come together in ways that are respectful, pragmatic, and productive. This gives me great, great hope.

My friend, the late Raymond Plank, founder of Apache Oil, and the Ucross Foundation, philanthropist, businessman, and funder of the Wyoming Futures Project once wrote, “The capacity of the individual is infinite. Limitations are largely of habit, convention, acceptance of things as they are, fear or self-confidence.” He was right. Our best days are ahead of us.

We have work to do. So let us go forth with confidence, with courage, and with conviction.

God bless you. God bless Wyoming … God bless the United States of America.