There is plenty of opportunity for criticism of any elected official. But occasionally, there is also a time for celebration.
Yesterday was Governor Jared Polis’ Inauguration for his second term, which he won by 20 points against Republican opponent Heidi Ganahl. Colorado Democrats currently have a supermajority at the State level. Coloradoans are showing they value progress, inclusivity, equity, and individual freedoms. In today’s political landscape, Democrats seem to be representing those values for Coloradoans far more than their Republican peers, whose platform includes banning abortions, restricting voting rights, less gun control, and tax breaks for the wealthy. That does not even include the numerous investigations many GOP members are under.
During the ceremony, Governor Polis spoke on a multitude of issues Coloradans face – crime, affordable housing, healthcare, and climate change. It is critical to work on having strong solutions to these issues. Coloradoans are facing extraordinarily high housing costs, and increasingly devastating fires and floods show climate change is at our doorstep. It is not clear how Governor Polis and the Colorado Democrats plan to tackle these issues, but we were glad to hear these critical challenges are the focal point. We will reserve any criticism for when legislation begins.
Governor Polis is very proud of passing free preschool education in his last term, and he should be. Studies show early childhood education has significant long-term benefits for the person and society as a whole.
But enough politics, Inaugurations are a time to celebrate, and the Democrats did just that.
The Swearing-In Ceremony began at 10:30 am with performances by Tarell Martin and the C2 Mass Choir. After opening remarks, the Presentation of the Colors was presented by the Colorado National Guard Honor Guard. The National Anthem was performed by the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus and the Out Loud Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus.
A touching Invocation was led by Reverend Dr. James D. Peters, Jr, who also led the 2018 Invocation. He joked he will come back for the next one if he is still around, as next year is his 90th birthday.
Terry Knight Sr. of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe led with a Native American Blessing, which was followed by the Administering of the Oaths of Office by Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court Brian D. Boatright.
The Ceremony closed with the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus and Out Loud Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus performing Peace Like a River, and Governor Polis’ mother, Susan Polis Schutz, reciting a poem.
The 38 Cannon Salute was conducted by the Colorado National Guard and the Benediction was by Rabbi Dr. Tirzah Firestone of Congregation Nevei Kodesh.
State Senate President Stephen Fenberg presented the events.
The Sneaker Ball, where Governor Polis is famous for wearing purple sneakers, was held at the Mission Ballroom. It was branded the “Sneaker Ball for All” as Governor Polis advocates a Colorado for All policy. Performances by Carly Rae Jepsen, Belinda Carlisle & They Might Be Giants. Drinks were free, the snacks and goodies were ample, and a good time was had by all.
Non-profit organizations that benefited from the Inaugural Ball fundraising efforts include Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund, Inside Out Youth Services, The STEAD School, and Broken Shovels Farm Sanctuary.
Governor Polis’s 2023 Inaugural Address
My fellow Coloradans, it has been the honor of my life to serve as your Governor these past four years. It is with the deepest gratitude and love for Colorado that I accept the responsibility of leading our incredible state for the next four years.
I want to begin by taking note of what an honor and a privilege it is for all of us to be here this morning, participating in this time-honored tradition.
This peaceful continuation of power must never be taken for granted. It’s what sustains our great republic, year after year, decade after decade, century after century.
In November’s election, we saw Coloradans from every walk of life come together to affirm that democracy is, indeed, sacred and worth voting for.
People of all ages and backgrounds — from Garfield to Douglas, Las Animas to Larimer – have spoken loud and clear that Colorado wants unity, not division.
We want practical solutions and real results, not partisan ideology. We want to move forward with a bright, positive vision for our shared future.
Here in Colorado, we have our own unique way of doing things. We’re bold and innovative. We are results-driven. We strive to expand our freedoms.
And we choose to make our home here because it’s the best state in America to live, raise a family, and build a great life. So let’s continue to celebrate red and blue, each and everyone of us.
Our mandate from the people is to lead the Colorado way, and that’s exactly what I intend to do as your Governor for these next four years.
It’s not about the brand of our politics, it’s about solutions to real-life challenges, and a passion for making life better for all of us.
Our call to action is to create opportunity for every Coloradan. To make good on our vision of a Colorado for All. There’s a Jewish proverb: He who invalidates another invalidates himself.
Our administration will never be about putting our fellow Coloradans down. We will always be about lifting people up — expanding freedoms and opportunities for one and all.
No matter what part of Colorado you call home, who you are, or who you love. No matter your race, or your gender, or how you worship, or how you vote. Colorado belongs to all of us, and we will all help shape our future.
When you travel around Colorado as often as Lt. Governor Primavera, and I do, you gain a special appreciation for the unique character of every community. But listen to enough folks, and you realize a lot of people are asking for the same things:
- Practical, commonsense solutions to the rising cost of living.
- Safe communities with good schools and affordable access to health care.
- The opportunity to build a great life for yourself and your family.
- The freedom to forge your own path without the government telling you how to live your life.
I don’t think I’d be standing before you today if we hadn’t shown some real progress in delivering on that vision.
For me, this job is about the opportunity to improve the lives of all Coloradans, and I’m proud to say that together, we’ve done that in important ways:
- Free full-day kindergarten.
- Lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
- Lowering income and property taxes.
- Protecting our blue skies and public lands.
- And defending Coloradans most fundamental freedoms.
Throughout our first term, we may have crossed some big items off our to-do list, but that doesn’t mean the list in front of us today is any shorter than it was four years ago. With each new challenge comes new opportunities.
As Colorado approaches our 150th anniversary as a state, we need to answer the question — Who do we want to be?
For too many people, life is simply too hard and too expensive. Coloradans are counting on all of us who work in this building behind me to deliver solutions.
To realize the full potential of our great state, we must continue to take the best ideas wherever they come from the left, the right, and the center and put them into action to move our state forward. And we must move forward together. No one gets left behind.
Together, we’re going to reduce housing costs across this state with options for every Colorado budget so that folks can afford to live in the communities where they work.
That means, quite simply, creating more housing in Colorado, consistent with managing for an increasingly scarce water supply, tackling our climate goals, and protecting our natural treasures.
We’re going to continue on our bold path toward making Colorado 100% renewable energy by 2040, powered by good-paying jobs, lowering rates for consumers, and doing our part to ensure future generations of Coloradans inherit a livable planet.
We’re going to implement free preschool for every family in a way that is sustainable over the long haul so that families don’t have to worry about paying thousands of extra dollars to get their children off to a strong start.
We’re going to tackle crime head-on, not only by holding criminals accountable but by preventing crime before it happens. Because no Coloradan should have to fear for their safety on the streets where they live, in the places where they work and play, and in the schools where our kids go to learn and dream big dreams.
And we’re going to keep using every tool we’ve got to save Coloradans money. Lower taxes, lower transportation costs, lower medical bills, lower business fees, and of course, lower housing costs. Anything we can do, we must when it comes to helping you hold onto more of your hard-earned money.
I’m so grateful to the people of Colorado, and I’m grateful to be surrounded by an incredible and dedicated team including my cabinet behind me – we are ready to take on these challenges together.
From my outstanding departing Chief of Staff, Lisa Kaufmann, to our tireless crisis response teams, to the folks who keep the lights on, the water running, the roads clear, our people healthy — Colorado wouldn’t have gotten through everything we’ve faced these last four years without the extraordinary work of our state workers. To each and every one of you, thank you for everything you do for our state.
And of course, a huge thank you to our dedicated Lieutenant Governor. No one knows more about health care or about how to save Coloradans money on it than Dianne. I am so thankful to have her by my side.
So, too, am I thankful to serve alongside our Attorney General Phil Weiser, our Secretary of State Jena Griswold, and our Treasurer Dave Young. No one could ask for finer partners than these, and I am so excited to continue working with them toward our shared vision of a Colorado for All.
Thank you to my colleagues in the State Assembly, including our former Speaker of the House and my visionary new Chief of Staff, Alec Garnett. The progress we’ve made these last four years simply wouldn’t have been possible without your efforts, and I can’t wait to work with you to get even more done.
And thank you to my family: my parents Susan and Stephen, my sister and brother, my husband Marlon, and our two amazing kids. You inspire me every day to do my very best for this place we love to call home.
Look, nothing about the task in front of us will be easy. If it were, then it would have been done already. But here in Colorado, we don’t ask for easy.
Here in Colorado, we scale mountains. We bridge great divides. We break barriers. With joy in our hearts, we take on the toughest battles, and when they’re won, we ask, what’s next?
Nobody could have predicted all that these last four years would bring, the many trials and tribulations and challenges. Nor, then, can anyone say with certainty what the next four will bring.
But as your Governor, as a fellow Coloradan, I promise you this: Whatever comes our way, we will face it together, with resourcefulness, innovation, grit and vision.
We will protect our freedoms — that Colorado way of life — and, together, we will build a Colorado for All.
Secure in the knowledge that our best days are still ahead, we will work together to build a future that all of us can be proud of. And there’s no time to waste. Our work begins now.
Thank you all so much. God Bless Colorado and God bless the United States of America.
Additional photos from the Inauguration and Sneaker Ball.
All photos at the 2023 Inauguration Ceremony were taken by Dustin Doskocil. The Sneaker Ball was taken by Shavonne Blades.
Photo essay by Dustin Doskocil of DoskoPhoto. Dustin Doskocil is a Colorado-based photographer. He started his business 16 years ago while obtaining a degree in advertising and fashion photography in Austin, Texas. After graduating, he moved to Dallas, where he continued building his client list and portfolio while assisting some of the best photographers from around the world. From there, he moved to Colorado to delve deeper into the mountains and adventure scene. This has led to more editorial and commercial assignments with large and small businesses. Capturing and sharing moments of people doing what they love to do is Dustin’s community and beyond. Discover more of Dustin’s powerful photography at: doskophoto.com