ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s new governor Wednesday called on the state’s 6 million residents to unite in his vision of a brighter future for every resident.
Gov. Wes Moore, in a nearly 20-minute inauguration address from the steps of the State House overlooking Lawyers Mall and the statue of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, touched on themes of equity and inclusion while avoiding hints of coming policy.
“Today is not the victory. Today is the opportunity,” Moore said speaking to a crowd that stretched from the foot of the State House through the mall and down Bladen Street. “It is our opportunity to lead with love. It is our opportunity to create with compassion. It’s our opportunity to fight fearlessly for our future. Maryland our time is right now. Our time is now to build a stake that for those who came before us that they fought for and it’s a state that leaves no one behind. This is not a slogan. It is the fulfillment of a hope Maryland.”
Moore, in his first remarks as governor, broke little new ground. Instead he leaned on campaign-tested themes, including equity, closing the poverty gap and improving education.
Moore, 44, was sworn in as the 63rd executive of the state and the first Black man to hold the job. He is the fifth black man to serve as governor nationally and just the third to be elected to the position nationally. Also sworn in was Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, a former state delegate from Montgomery County who is now the first immigrant and first Asian American to hold the job of lieutenant governor.
Moore enters office with a historically large surplus but also at a time when residents are concerned about the economy and inflation and public safety.
“But the truth is, Maryland is asset rich and strategy poor,” said Moore. “And for too long, we have left too many people behind.”
“Yes, Aruna and my portraits are going to look a little bit different from the ones that we’ve always seen in the Capitol,” he said. “But that’s not the point. This journey has never been about making history. It’s about marching forward. Today is not an indictment of the past today. Today is a celebration of our collective future. And today, our opportunity to begin this future is so bright it is blinding but only if we are intentional, inclusive and disciplined in confronting challenges, making hard choices and seizing this opportunity in front of us.”
Moore was sworn in at noon in an official, and traditional, ceremony held inside the Maryland Senate chamber. He took the oath on two Bibles. One was owned by Frederick Douglass, a Marylander, author and abolitionist who escaped slavery. The second belonging to his grandfather Rev. Dr. James Thomas, the first black minister of the Dutch Reformed Church.
Prior to the swearing-in, Moore participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Annapolis City Docks, which at one time was a regional slave port.
“We know that in this moment we have a chance we have an opportunity,” Moore said in his inauguration speech. “And we have a unique place in space to do something special. And when people say well, how do you know that you can do this or how do you know that you can execute upon this? In this time of divisiveness and this time of political vitriol? My answer is this. It’s the only way that I’ve ever led. My job was to unify our unit and go out and accomplish that mission. And it’s the same job and responsibility that we have right now. If we are divided, we can’t win. But if we are united, we can’t lose.”
The newly minted governor is not expected to make any announcements following his inauguration ceremony.
On Thursday Moore is expected to make some announcements, having hinted earlier this month that it will be an important “working day” for his new administration. He is expected to order the release of money to provide training to expand access to abortions that his predecessor, Republican Larry Hogan, has held up for the last six months.
On Friday, Moore will deliver his first state budget plan to lawmakers.