New Wyoming governor takes oath in state Capitol work zone
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Mark Gordon wore a yellow safety vest for a swearing-in Monday as Wyoming’s 33rd governor, which took place in a well-known yet unusual setting: The Wyoming State Capitol, which has been closed for renovations for over three years.
Because of safety restrictions, only a small crowd of a few dozen relatives, state officials, construction personnel and an Associated Press pool reporter witnessed the 6 a.m. ceremony under the glare of construction lights.
“It’s the people’s house. I wanted to make sure we started with them,” the Republican Gordon said after being sworn in by Wyoming Chief Justice Michael Davis. The ceremony took place beneath a giant U.S. flag hanging from scaffolding a couple stories high in the building’s rotunda.
Wyoming’s other four statewide elected officials — Treasurer Curt Meier, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow, Auditor Kristi Racines and Secretary of State Ed Buchanan — also were sworn in before Davis. They are also Republicans.
The event was organized by Gordon and his staff over the weekend and announced Sunday.
“What an honor to be in this room. What an amazing moment,” Gordon said after taking the oath of office with his wife Jennie at his side.
Later Monday morning, Gordon was sworn in before the public at the Cheyenne Civic Center, where recent governors including Republican Matt Mead and Democrat Dave Freudenthal took their oaths of office. Mead, Freudenthal, former Republican Gov. Jim Geringer and former Democratic Gov. Mike Sullivan and their wives joined Gordon on stage.
In his inaugural address, Gordon made a plea for fiscal prudence while Wyoming struggles with reduced revenue because of weak prices and demand for fossil fuels, including coal and oil. State government services “come with a price tag,” Gordon said.
“We must recognize that not all wants are needs. How we separate these things will be our toughest work in the years to come,” Gordon said.
Gordon, 61, beat Democrat Mary Throne in November to succeed Mead, who after two terms was prevented from running again. Gordon was state treasurer for six years before beating five opponents to claim the Republican GOP nomination.
Gordon ranches in the Buffalo, Wyoming, area and is a former businessman and board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
The over $300 million project to renovate the Capitol and a neighboring state office complex, the Herschler Building, is scheduled for completion this summer. As of Monday, a fair amount of work appeared left to do, from unfinished flooring and paint to protruding electrical wires.
Before the event, participants and spectators including Senate President Drew Perkins and House Speaker Steve Harshman met in a construction trailer to collect hard hats, safety vests and safety glasses, and hear a safety briefing.
All including Gordon signed liability waivers.
Most then boarded an antique-trolley-style tourist bus for the one-block drive to the Capitol. Workers with flashlights lit the way up temporary wooden steps to the main entrance, the still-shrouded Capitol dome looming overhead.
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