DENVER – Standing under banners that read “Colorado For All,” Jared Polis was sworn in as the 43rd governor of Colorado Tuesday morning in a diverse ceremony laced with words of hope and progress for the future of the Centennial State and its people.
Polis, who became Colorado’s first Jewish governor and the state’s first openly-gay man elected governor, said in his speech attended by hundreds on the brisk but sunny winter morning that he would “always view problems as solutions waiting to happen” and said he and his administration would pursue their goals “with joy, optimism and endless faith in the great people of Colorado.”
Polis thanked his predecessor, John Hickenlooper, for “leading the way” over the past eight years in office and laying a foundation for Polis’ administration to continue. But the change in style between the governors was obvious with Polis’ first act in office: a selfie with the inauguration crowd.
“Right now, our nation is experiencing a period of growing divisiveness and rising tribalism. But we here in Colorado have chosen a different path. Here, we have come so far, climbed so high, and done so much not just to say, but to show that we reject that brand of politics,” Polis said – a reference to the national state of politics that several of the speakers indirectly touched on Tuesday.
He said he and his administration would “make Colorado work for everyone.”
“We, as a people, have decided that there is no reason to let our differences divide us,” Polis said. “No, we have embraced the idea that no two people are exactly alike, and we have decided to celebrate our differences, Colorado for all.”
He said he would continue Hickenlooper’s administration’s work to celebrate diversity, continue Colorado’s economic growth, bolster education funding and keep working to improve health care access for Coloradans across the state.
Polis will deliver his first State of the State speech on Thursday and said he would delve further into details on his planned policies then. But he laid out a more general outline of what he says Coloradans should expect from him over his next four years in office, saying there would always be a seat at the table for “those with constructive input” even if they have different perspective.
“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,” he said.
Polis spoke after a diverse array of others.
The invocation was delivered by the Reverend Dr. James D. Peters, Jr. of New Hope Baptist Church. It was followed by a Sikh blessing, a poetry recitation from Anne Waldman and a Native American blessing from Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Spiritual Leader Terry Knight.
Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan B. Coats administered the oaths of office to Polis, Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera and other Colorado Democrats elected in November: Secretary of State Jena Griswold, State Treasurer Dave Young and Attorney General Phil Weiser.
Hickenlooper also delivered one final speech as governor before Polis was sworn in. It was more of a look back at the lows and highs of what Colorado has undergone since he took office: floods, shootings, a changing economy and more that he says showed him that Coloradans’ spirits don’t break and that they are filled with “community, kindness and love.”
“We are connected to the very best of ourselves when we are connected to one another,” he said. He told the crowd that Colorado had become “a mountain of opportunity” that had attracted people from all over the world.
“This is a place where anyone can do whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want. Whether it’s an artist, an entrepreneur, a farmer, a good parent, or even a humble brewer – we are a place of reinvention,” Hickenlooper said.
He said it was Colorado’s “good fortune” to have Polis as the state’s next governor – saying Polis wouldn’t focus only on conservative or liberal ideas, but rather an “agenda rooted in the hope of all Coloradans.”
He said he was “honored” to pass the baton to Polis and would go home Tuesday a private citizen with a full heart who was “never more excited” than he was for the state’s future in the hands of Polis. And the former Denver mayor and now-former two-term governor of Colorado ended his final speech in office with his catch phrase, as he has most every year during inaugural events.
“It has been the greatest gift to be your mayor, to be your governor. Thank you for taking a chance on me, and one last time: Giddy up!”
This is a developing news story and will be updated.