Sussex County Delaware

Ruth Ann Minner

Delaware Governor ...

Speech Focuses on the
'Delaware Dream'

Photo: New Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner

Following is the text of new Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner's inauguration speech during inauguration cerermonies on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2001 at Legislative Hall in Dover.

Minner, a Sussex County native from Milford, is Delaware's first female governor.

"Thank you, Dr. DeLauder.

Delaware Governor Ruth Ann MinnerDistinguished former governors, Sen. Carper, Congressman Castle, Ambassador Moser of Austria, representative Chen of Taiwan, President Pro Tem Sharp, Speaker Spence, members of the General Assembly, Judge Walls, Judge Quillen, members of the judiciary, Lt. Gov. Carney, other elected officials of Delaware, distinguished guests, my fellow Delawareans and my wonderful family, thank you for joining me today.

Thank you for joining me for a day that is unlike any other in my life, but one that has many parallels throughout the history of our great state. The inauguration of a new governor happens relatively often in our nation and our state, but for each individual who has held this office, it has been new -- and exciting.

Seventy-one other individuals have held this office -- 71 men, to be precise. Today, I break new ground, becoming the first woman to hold this office, and for that I am proud and grateful to those who have been a part of my success.

Tracey Carney and the family are surely the most proud of John, but I am equally delighted to see my teammate take the oath. While John and I share a common vision for this state, we have come to this inauguration on different paths. Our growing years were different, but our desire for a good education sets the stage for our attempt to alter and improve our classrooms. Neither John nor I were born to wealth, but treasure our families. I am pleased to have become part of his large family and am happy to welcome him to mine.

This address is a daunting task. I stand before you today as a new governor, but also as an old friend. I have been in public life for over a quarter-century now, and most of you I have addressed time and time again.

So what can I say today, what can people read in their papers tomorrow and on the Web today, that I haven't said and you haven't heard before?

I'm not sure that speech exists. The values that I will govern by are the ones that I have lived by my whole life. Work hard. Be fair and honest. Treasure loyalty -- and love -- above all.

I believe in telling people plainly and simply what you believe, and in doing what you promise. So today, I am going to make some simple promises.

I promise to remember where I came from. My path to this day was a long and winding one. I experienced the joy of starting a family, and later the sorrow and fear of becoming a widow. I was turned down for loans simply because I was a woman, and later I did business with the most powerful businessmen in the world.

I went from being a crop surveyor who worried about choosing between medicine and food for my sons, to being the governor of the greatest state in the greatest nation in the world.

So when a young person from one of our schools tells me that he can't succeed, I tell him that I don't buy it. I have been blessed to live the American dream -- the Delaware dream -- and I am determined to give every child in this state the opportunity to do the same.

I have overcome long odds by honest, hard work, and I believe that others can, too. As governor, I will create opportunity for our young people, but I also promise you that I will expect them to earn it.

I promise to treasure families. Mine has meant everything to me. Just as I sacrificed for my children, we must all be willing to put the children of this state first.

That means making our schools our priority and improving them our mission. It means protecting our abused and neglected children, and our foster children. It means nurturing our economy, so Delaware's children will have jobs when they graduate. And it means ensuring that children who need health care get it.

The true measure of a society is how it treats the most vulnerable in it -- the very young and the very old. As governor, I will honor our seniors and nurture our children.

I promise to be one of the most accessible governors Delaware has ever had. That's partly for your benefit, but it's also partly for my benefit. I love meeting and spending time with the people of this state. I am always impressed by their enormous hearts and talents.

I thought about that last week, when I listened to Bill Bowser, the chairman of Delaware's brand new cancer task force, talk passionately to me about the disease that has stricken his son.

I thought how lucky I was, to find someone who will use his time and talent to help save other Delawareans, while at the same time helping his brave son stay well.

I thought about it when I considered Sylvia Dorsey, a woman who first became a foster parent because she found a frightened teen-age girl crying on a playground and took her in.

Sylvia is chairing a new group I created to improve our foster care system. I feel lucky to know someone who has given up such a big part of her life to help children who desperately needed it.

Bill and Sylvia, and other people like Stacey Mobley and Lynne Howard and Mike Parkowski, and my old office buddy, Bob Byrd, have stepped forward in the past 13 days to help me move this state ahead. People who have been with me for years, like my inaugural chairs Greg Patterson and Annabelle Kressman. They -- and you -- make me proud to be a Delawarean.

Being accessible also means being accessible to our General Assembly. To the members of the House and Senate here today, many of you my old colleagues, I say: I value your friendship, I value your opinions, and although we may not always agree, as governor, my door is always open.

I promise to do everything I can to keep our economy strong. We are entering what might be more difficult economic times. Although I can't control the national economy, I will ensure our state is fiscally sound and a great place to do business.

I have surrounded myself with a world-class economic team, one of the finest this state has ever seen. With Dave Singleton, Pete Ross, Jack Markell and John Carney in the capital, and the new Strategic Economic Council to help guide us, I am confident that we will be successful in attracting the best new businesses in the country, and in keeping the good ones we have.

With our respected judiciary, I am confident that we will continue to be a good home for our nation's corporations. And with a careful and responsible legislature, I am confident that we will live within our means. As governor, I will help keep our budget balanced.

I promise to embrace the diversity of our people. Judge Kenneth Clark's family has lived on this peninsula for over a millennium. The Dutch, the Swedes, Africans and English came later, and now our newest residents come from Central America and the Caribbean.

All are an important part of our economy, our neighborhoods and our society. All are equal. All deserve respect. As governor, I promise to encourage and promote that respect.

One last promise. I will be as hard-working a governor as this state has ever seen.

In the 13 days since my friend Tom Carper helped give me a head start on governing this great state, I have appointed almost all of my cabinet, created the Strategic Economic Council and introduced a new patient's bill of rights.

I have issued a new directive on the safety of children, appointed a new Child Protection Accountability Commission, a new foster care task force, and created a new Judicial Nominating Commission.

I have appointed a new DEFAC chairman, introduced legislation to inform the public of environmental hazards, and created with the legislature a cancer task force.

If someone had told you that I would do all those things in 13 days, would you have believed them?

I have said before that I believe in hard work. As governor, I can tell you, I'm just getting started.

You know, I don't arrive at this moment or this podium alone. I bring with me an expansive and ever-expanding family, and they, as much or more than I, deserve credit for this day.

There are those who are not here physically. My mother and father. My sisters, Florence and Alice. My husbands, Frank and Roger, each wonderful in their own way.

With me today are my brother, Sam, and my sister, Emma Jane. You have heard much about my sons, Frank, Wayne and Gary.

Their wives, whom I consider daughters, Margaret, Phyllis and Cindy. My grandchildren, Lisa, Michelle, Wayne, Brandon, Kristine, Jarod, and Emily. And our newest additions, Jason, Darren, Lindsey, Trevor, and Bryce.

A few weeks before his son's inauguration as president, Joseph Kennedy said, "Jack doesn't belong anymore just to a family. He belongs to the country." I know my family must feel like I belong to the state of Delaware as much as to them. But they are willing to share. And for that I love them and thank them.

But the sentiment about family that hits most close to home for me is from Desmond Tutu: "You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." I thank them - one more time - as I thank God for sending them to me. My time and my work as governor are for my family, as well as yours.

I love and treasure my family more than anything else in this world. It's just that now my family is 783,600 strong.

Earlier this morning at our prayer service, the readings, the music and message had a common theme that John and I embrace. The next four years are an opportunity not to rule, but to serve -- to use our collective experiences and love of Delaware for its betterment.

I will cherish and keep watch over this state just as I have my own family. That is my promise. This is my Delaware dream.

Thank you."

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