Our View: Optimism abounds in elected officials' first day on the job
Just like spring training before the start of every Major League Baseball season, optimism abounded on the government's first day of work in 2007. Inaugurations and swearing-in ceremonies not only introduced newly elected leaders, they provided r...
Just like spring training before the start of every Major League Baseball season, optimism abounded on the government's first day of work in 2007. Inaugurations and swearing-in ceremonies not only introduced newly elected leaders, they provided returning leaders the opportunity for a fresh start.
For one day, at least, pessimism was pushed aside and a renewed hope for the future embraced.
Few politicos sounded as upbeat or as focused on the days ahead as Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle. "Our future starts with our kids," he said at the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center in Superior, which hosted one of four community inauguration celebrations held across the state for Doyle and Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton. Lauding the talents of Washburn High School's "Fire and Ice" song and dance troupe, Doyle said he'd do what he could to make sure education was fully funded in the state and to assure that all Wisconsin children have access to health care through an expanded BadgerCare Plus program.
"Helping our kids get the most out of their future was the reason I ran for public office in the beginning," he said.
One reason for his optimism is Madison's changing political landscape, which now includes a majority of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate. "I believe we've been handed an opportunity," Doyle said of the shift.
Sentiments sounded similar on the Minnesota side of the mighty Mississippi, St. Louis and St. Croix rivers.
"We don't live in a time or a place where the voters have given one political party total control," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said a few blocks from the state Capitol in St. Paul at a swearing-in ceremony that illustrated his remarks. Vowing "civility" and "positive change," the Republican governor shared the stage with a trio of newly elected DFLers: Attorney General Lori Swanson, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Auditor Rebecca Otto. In 2003, only the attorney general's office was occupied by a Democrat.
"The people of Minnesota have given us shared government, and we need to make it work," Pawlenty said.
And up north? Newly elected St. Louis County Attorney Melanie Ford was sworn before a crowd of about 30 or 40. The ceremony was scheduled early, at 7:45 a.m., Ford said, because she didn't want the event to cut into her workday.
"I promised to do what I'm supposed to do," Ford said of the event. "It'll take me a little while to figure out what to prioritize. My highest priority right now is getting to know all the staff." That's a good idea -- as well as getting to know a few contentious County Board members.
All this, including Doyle's whirlwind tour across his state, was a display of Midwestern modesty compared to inaugurals in some parts of the country. A two-day, Hollywood-style party is scheduled later in the week for California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, recovering from a broken leg and elected to his first full term. With it comes a $1 million-plus price tag and a guest list of 3,000. At least an equal number of critics are balking at the cost, though the bill is being picked up by political supporters.
Perhaps the fresh start is worth celebrating, but we'll take the low-key optimism.