LANSING, Mich. — With temperatures around 30 degrees in Lansing, Gretchen Whitmer took the oath of office as Michigan’s 49th governor shortly after 11:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
The theme of the inauguration ceremony was “Building Bridges Together.”
The 47-year-old Democrat and Michigan State University graduate said in her opening remarks outside the State Capitol that she hopes to unthaw some of the political divisiveness that has hampered problem-solving in recent years.
“I will be a governor for everyone,” Whitmer declared.
Also sworn into office during Tuesday’s inauguration were Attorney General Dana Nessel, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, as well as those who won court and state education seats.
History was made as Attorney General Dana Nessel became the first openly gay elected statewide official in Michigan and Garlin Gilchrist became Michigan’s first African-American lieutenant governor.
Among those seated with Whitmer were her husband, Dr. Marc Mallory and various family members, former Michigan governors Rick Snyder, Jennifer Granholm and James Blanchard, as well as current Michigan U.S. senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and former U.S. Senator Carl Levin.
The ceremony included a Capitol flyover of two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters stationed out of Grand Ledge.
“I know you’re awake now,” quipped Whitmer moments afterward in her first remarks.
Though it’s the first time in about 30 years that Democrats have held the four major administrative offices, Whitmer takes the governor’s office with a Republican-led State Legislature. She signaled throughout the morning that this will be her administration’s biggest hurdle.
“We owe it to the people we serve to cast partisanship aside, to roll up our sleeves and to build bridges together,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer referred to Michigan’s prime accomplishment under bipartisan rule: the building of the Mackinac Bridge.
“It was not possible, they thought. Others thought that politicians would not be able to put their differences aside and get it done,” Whitmer said. “They even mocked it, calling it ‘Soapy’s Folly’. But leaders, together from both parties, and workers from across our state proved them all wrong.”
Following the inauguration, Whitmer and other officials will attend a celebration at the Cobo Center in Detriot from 7-10 p.m. The event is free and open to the public but tickets are required.