His hand on the Bible, John Carney took the oath as Delaware’s 74th governor Tuesday morning, promising he and Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long would work together to improve the state.
Speaking under a gray sky and a cold, light drizzle, Carney said, “We are going to work together and think in new ways about our future.”
The state’s financial situation clearly on his mind, the governor said Delawareans no longer can expect to rely only on one large industry or company to stabilize the state economy.
“Our administration will work to lead our state through a transition to an innovation economy, where we’re not only the First State when it comes to incorporating a company, but also the First State when it comes to growing a company and deepening its roots here in Delaware,” Carney said.
Hall-Long said she would work with Carney, using her expertise garnered from years in the General Assembly and in nursing to improve healthcare for Delawareans.
“I had the chance to work with John and to know John since I was first elected in 2002 and along his side, I am convinced there is no better person to lead our state in this next chapter and no better champion for Delaware,” she said.
“I can’t wait to get started,” Hall-Long said.
Carney appeared to signal a change in tone from the Markell administration, beginning with the inaugural taking place on the east side of Legislative Hall, a break with longstanding tradition of holding it on the west side.
He also said he wanted to look to the future and fundamentally change how Delaware is governed.
Carney wants to move forward with retooling industrial sites, revamping the state’s economic development office and supporting small businesses.
He addressed in particular the situation in Wilmington in an effort to help bring jobs, which in turn will help reduce crime.
“We will also reach into the neighborhoods of our largest city, because I truly believe that our state cannot succeed if Wilmington does not succeed,” Carney said.
Those remarks must have had special meaning for newly-elected Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, particularly because of Carney’s longtime residence in the city.
“A lot of citizens believe in this state and in this city,” Purzycki said. “John has lived in the city for 30 years.“He understands the city and it’s really valuable to have a person who understands the problems of the city firsthand.”
Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said he wants to work with Carney, particularly on budget issues. The FY 2018 budget submitted by former Gov. Jack Markell is of great significance to the state capital, particularly because Dover may lose important state funding.
“It impacts Dover greatly,” Christiansen said. “I intend to meet with the governor as soon as we can to discuss the current proposed budget and its effect on the city of Dover.”
Many others in the crowd came to support the new governor and his administration.
“I’m looking for consistency,” said Monique Johns, who ran unsuccessfully for the General Assembly from the state’s Ninth District. Her main concerns are making Delaware safe for its citizens and balancing the state budget.
“John and Bethany will do an excellent job in leading Delaware,” she predicted.
“I’ve known John Carney a long time,” said Vance G. Daniels of Lincoln, who said he would like to see improvements in education and new jobs.“I’m hoping he will look at the whole situation and look out for the whole state.”
Accompanied by his father, Rich, Eric Killingsworth of Middletown took at least part of the day off from classes at the MOT Charter School. Before becoming lieutenant governor, Hall-Long also represented their district in the General Assembly, Killingsworth said.
“I wanted to see the inauguration,” Eric said, thinking about the day’s historic aspect. “I thought it would be a great experience and I know Lt. Gov. Hall-Long. I’ve met her in the store.”
Closing out his inaugural address, Carney asked Delawareans to look four years hence.
When it comes time to render judgment on his administration, Carney wants people to see that the economy is stronger, there are better jobs, neighborhoods are safer and that the state’s finances are strong and in good order.
“We all know that it won’t be easy, that there will be tough decisions, that there will be times when we disagree,” he said. “But working together, we will find a path forward and we will be better than we were before.”