Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin gave his inaugural address on Saturday at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.
In a rousing speech, Youngkin reaffirmed a number of his campaign promises, called for unity, and promised Virginians a brighter future, built on a commitment to individual liberty.
Youngkin began his speech by greeting and congratulating Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates Todd Gilbert, Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears, Attorney General Jason Miyares, President Pro Tempore of the Virginia Senate Louise Lucas, the Justices of the Virginia Supreme Court, and the residents of Virginia.
As he began to speak, he was interrupted by a flyover by two F-22 Raptor fighter jets. “We celebrate the sound of freedom!” Youngkin cheered, prompting a standing ovation and chants of “USA! USA!” from the crowd. Youngkin briefly joined in the chants from the podium before beginning again.
“Today we gather, not as individuals, nor as Republicans or Democrats, but today we gather as Virginians,” Youngkin began.
“The will of the people grants a license to serve. A temporary license extended with trust, with hope, and with expectations to deliver on promises made. And therefore, as I reflect on my Virginia home and my love for this great nation and its founding principles, I am so humbled to be sworn in as the 74th governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Youngkin thanked his wife, first lady of Virginia Suzanne Youngkin, his four children, his sister and his late parents, and outgoing Governor Ralph Northam and first lady Pam Northam for their support. He then made note of the fact that the 2021 gubernatorial election saw record turnout and more than a 25% increase in turnout from the 2017 race. “3.3 million Virginians [sent] us here on a mission to restore trust in government, and to restore power to the people,” Youngkin said.
“We stand here today as the messengers of that movement, entrusted to protect liberty, create opportunity, and build unity for the hard work ahead.”
Youngkin continued, adding that his governorship would be “fueled” by the “hopes and dreams,” the “tenacity and grit of Virginians,” including students, teachers, and parents; small business owners and entrepreneurs; law enforcement officers, and first responders; military, veterans, and families; blue-collar workers like farmers and factory workers; and health care workers.
“My fellow Virginians, the spirit of Virginia is alive and well,” Youngkin continued. “And together we will strengthen it. Together, we’ll renew the promise of Virginia, so it will be the best place to live, work, and raise a family.” Youngkin also pledged to be the advocate for all Virginians, regardless of who they voted for in 2021.
Youngkin expressed “hope and optimism” for the state’s future, stemming from “a shared vision for the future,” and a knowledge of the past. “We are acutely aware of the struggles Virginians have endured over the last two years, struggles that we continue to face,” Youngkin said. He recounted soberly the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on Virginia: 15,000 lives lost, lost jobs, lost businesses; strains placed on children and parents from school lockdowns and remote classes; inflation and the supply chain crisis; rising costs, higher taxes, and slowed growth; and “a rise in divisiveness in the public square and distrust of public figures.”
“Despite the continuing challenges posed by COVID-19, I see a path forward,” Youngkin said. “Not to some pessimistic new normal, but to a new and better day.” That path forward, Youngkin continued, was built with vaccines and therapeutic treatments for COVID-19, but also with “deep and abiding respect for individual freedom,” and a commitment to protect both lives and livelihoods.
“We stand here today to accept the license to lead, and will do so by including all and welcoming all. Because the future of Virginia belongs to all,” Youngkin said.
Youngkin then laid out several of his executive priorities: a promise to invest in the public school system and in Virginia’s schoolchildren; a promise to “remove politics from the classroom and re-focus on essential math, science, and reading,” as well as to “teach all of [Virginia’s] history, the good and the bad,” which was met with a raucous standing ovation; a promise to lower the cost of living and cut taxes; a promise to grow incomes and opportunities and reinvigorate Virginia’s economy, including a goal of 400,000 new jobs and 10,000 new startup companies over the course of his tenure; and a commitment to “preserve public safety” by “fully funding law enforcement.”
Youngkin also reiterated his signature campaign promise to empower parents to participate in their children’s education. “Parents should have a say in what is taught in school, because in Virginia, parents have a fundamental right to make decisions with regards to their child’s upbringing, education, and care,” he said.
“My fellow Virginians, we each have the power to make this commonwealth a better place. … What we can do together is truly limitless,” Youngkin concluded. “It’s day one. Lets get to work.”