MADISON, Wis. – Democrat Tony Evers took the oath of office in the Wisconsin State Capitol Monday to be the 46th governor of the state of Wisconsin, and told the audience gathered in the rotunda that the ceremony was “bigger than the issues” that he campaigned on around the state.
“We cannot fix these problems unless people come before politics. We’ve become paralyzed by polarity and we’ve become content with division. We’ve been indifferent to resentment and governing by retribution,” Evers said.
Evers said he was “humbled” and “proud” to be sworn into office.
“No single person can solve these problems alone — the challenges we face can only be fixed by finding soltions together,” Evers said.
Evers spoke about divisive politics and the need to set aside political interests for the good of the people of Wisconsin.
“We’ve become paralyzed by polarity and we’ve become content with division,” Evers said. “We’ve been indifferent to resentment and governing by retribution.”
Former Gov. Scott Walker signed lame-duck legislation in December that stripped away powers from Evers and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul.
At that time, Evers had said Walker and Republican legislative leaders were ignoring the will of the people who elected him and other Democrats. He addressed that sentiment in his inaugural address.
“The people of Wisconsin demanded a change this November, and that change is coming. But that change won’t happen without all of us. So, that hard work begins here today,” Evers said.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald previously said GOP lawmakers will likely create their own state budget instead of using the one Evers proposes.
Evers has said he hopes to work with Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Fitzgerald. In his address Monday, he expressed a desire to bridge the partisan divide.
“We’ve gotten away from who we are and the values that make Wisconsin great — not Republican or Democratic values, but our Wisconsin values of kindness and respect, empathy and compassion, and integrity and civility,” Evers said.
Evers also touted his campaign promises of funding public schools, protecting people with pre-existing conditions and providing funding for roads and infrastructure in Wisconsin.
He thanked the administration who he and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes are replacing, Walker and now former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. He also played up his love story with his wife, Kathy, who he met in kindergarten in Plymouth, the town where they both grew up.
The noon inauguration was the first event in a day of ceremony at the Capitol. Lawmakers in both houses of the legislature will also be sworn in, and the evening will end with an inaugural gala at the Monona Terrace.
Evers ended his address with a nod to the celebration at hand Monday.
“Let’s polka tonight and get to work tomorrow,” Evers said.