DENVER (AP) – Democrat John Hickenlooper took the oath of office Tuesday as Colorado’s 42nd governor and promised to immediately go to work on the state’s top issues: jobs and the economy.
Hickenlooper told hundreds of people shivering in the cold during an 11-minute speech that he will sign executive orders promoting jobs as one of his first orders of business.
“We will chart a course for economic revival from the bottom up, county by county,” he promised.
Other statewide elected officials were also sworn in Tuesday, including two Republicans, tripling the number of statewide Republican officials.
Republican Scott Gessler was sworn in as secretary of state, which oversees elections, and Walker Stapleton took the oath as treasurer. They’ll join Republican Attorney General John Suthers, who is taking an oath for his second term.
Hickenlooper’s executive orders will require the state to partner with local communities in creating jobs and designing economic plans for those communities.
See images from the inauguration in our Photo Gallery.
Another order will emphasize global opportunities and create the Governor’s Trade and Tourism Ambassador Program, and a third will help counties cut red tape. The ambassador program will enlist Colorado businesses and people in other states and countries who have a stake in Colorado to spread the word that Colorado welcomes innovation and new investment.
On Friday, Hickenlooper sets off on a statewide tour to help counties develop economic development plans that will be incorporated in a statewide economic development plan.
Spectators were given handwarmers to ward off the frigid weather. A flyover by military jets was canceled because of icing on the runways.
Hickenlooper, who resigned as Denver mayor earlier in the day, said current challenges present a great opportunity for people to put aside their differences and make Colorado a model for prosperity and good government.
The new administration will work with lawmakers to deal with a $1 billion revenue shortfall this year and the top issue will be jobs and the economy.
He also expressed concern for jobless Coloradans who are struggling to keep afloat.
“This economic downturn goes beyond statistics and forecasts. It’s personal. All of us know someone who has lost a job,” Hickenlooper said. “We know someone who went back to work after retiring because their nest egg cracked along with Wall Street. And we know someone burdened with anxiety and fear about the pink slip that might appear tomorrow.”
He also promised to protect the state’s land and water resources as his jobs programs go forward.
Hickenlooper said people should refrain from personal attacks and relationships must be defined by respect, but he made no reference to the shootings Saturday in Tucson that left U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition and six others dead. The tragedy sparked a nationwide outcry against political attacks.
Hickenlooper was sworn in under tight security at the state Capitol, but advisers said the security had been planned months before Saturday’s shootings.
After the ceremony, Hickenlooper and incoming Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia plan to meet with schoolchildren from across Colorado at the Denver Art Museum. They sent in projects designed to show innovation and their knowledge of local history.
Hickenlooper is also planning laid-back inaugural festivities Tuesday night, including a barbecue dinner and dance at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver followed by a concert by OneRepublic at the Ogden Theatre. In a nod to Hickenlooper’s past as a brewery owner, more than a dozen beers will be available, including Wynkoop’s Brewing Co.’s “Inaugurale,” a brown ale featuring Colorado malt.
– By Steven K. Paulson and Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)