By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
Gov. Kay Ivey was sworn into office Monday morning on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol. Ivey’s swearing in marked her official start to her first full term as governor as first Republican woman to be elected to the office in Alabama.
Ivey remarked on this historic accomplishment at the beginning of her inaugural address. She noted that former Gov. Lurleen Wallace was a personal hero of hers since around the time of her service in the 1960s, when Ivey was still in school about to start on her own path to Governor.
“Like most of my predecessors, my pathway to this spot was certainly not predetermined or even likely. After all, when I was growing up in my hometown of Camden, little girls simply didn’t dream of growing up to one day be elected governor,” Ivey said during her inaugural address.
Ivey also noted that a single chair was left empty on stage in honor of Wallace and that Wallace’s daughter, Peggy, was also in attendance.
Four of Alabama’s six living former governors were also in attendance, including Ivey’s immediate predecessor Gov. Robert Bentley. Other notable faces that joined Ivey on stage were former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions who also shares the same hometown as Ivey. She remarked about that in her speech saying, “If you’re from Wilcox County, you just never know where you’ll end up.”
Some old childhood friends of Ivey’s were in the crowd during the parade. Judy Powb of Camden, who is a few years younger than Ivey but watched her excel as a leader in the Future Homemakers of America Society, said she was always so impressed watching Ivey grow and develop as a leader from such a young age and knew, even as high schoolers, that Ivey was destined to make history.
“I knew from a young age and I had always said to my friends that this girl from Camden, this district president, will be president some day because she had moved all those teenage girls to action and inspired them to be leaders themselves,” she said.
Ivey also took a few moments to talk about policy and legislation she would like to see the Alabama legislature deal with during the next session. Fixing Alabama’s infrastructure and prisons were some notable ones that she remarked on, but also said the state needed to keep up its awarding-winning First Class Pre-K program as well.
There were some notable speeches from other constitutional officers, like Secretary of State John Merill who focused his speech on the efforts he has accomplished already and his plans for the future.
“We think that it’s important for everyone to vote, but just one time. We just want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Merill said.
Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth also gave a lofty and poetic speech that reflected his vision for the next four years.
“Today we gather at the literal crossroads of history in the shadows of two buildings – one that gave birth to the Civil War and another that launched the Civil Rights Movement. For much of Alabama’s existence, the rest of the country has viewed us through the prism of these two events.
“And while it is right for us to recognize our history, we must not settle for being defined solely by our past.In this 200th year of Alabama’s founding let us resolve to give the nation a fuller, more vibrant, and well-defined view of who we are as a state and a people,” he said.
Ainsworth also mentioned policy in his speech but also was one of the only politicians that said much of anything about the state of corruption in Alabama politics as well.
“We must no longer accept corruption as a natural byproduct of public service. We must punish those who violate public trust,” Ainsworth said.
Good thing for Ainsworth because that is exactly what Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall plans on doing with his term. Marshall spent most of his time explaining his dedication to the law and said that his main job will be enforcing the rule of law of Alabama to everyone equally. Marshall also mentioned corruption in his speech saying, “I will never use the law as a means to a political ends nor will I ever confuse the idea of law and the fact of power. My loyality will be to the law itself.
“Indeed the first civil right of every person in this state is to be free from the fear of violence. As Alabama’s chief law enforcement officer, that responsibility starts with me,” Marshall said.
The inaugural day then ended with a parade full of marching bands from all over the state, including Auburn University and the University of Alabama. The event marked a joyous occasion in Alabama and the start of a new chapter for the state’s history that hopefully marks a time of growth and prosperity.