Minnesota’s newly elected constitutional officers were sworn in Monday, including now Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN), Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan (D-MN), and Attorney General Keith Ellison (D-MN). All five officials inaugurated are members of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party, a grim reminder to the Minnesota GOP that it failed to win a single statewide election in the midterms.
The inauguration ceremony was hosted at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater, where Secretary of State Steve Simon received a standing ovation for his call to restore “the right to vote for those who have left prison behind.”
Ellison, meanwhile, reiterated his promise to fight to help all Minnesotans “afford their lives,” and addressed in particular the rising costs of insulin.
Flanagan, who has taken on an unprecedented leadership role in the transition team, said she and Walz “ran as a team from early on.”
“We are and have been sincere, good friends with a profound respect for one another,” she said. “We will build on the legacy forged by Lt. Gov. and now Sen. Tina Smith. We will reshape the role of Lt. Gov. in Minnesota, and we will govern in partnership. By elevating the role’s significance, we will bring diverse perspectives to the Governor’s Office. Tim Walz chose me as a governing partner because he believes in creating space for new voices.”
Flanagan, an indigenous woman, noted that she was sworn in on a Bible from 1854 written in the Ojibwe language.
“I chose this Bible because it has deep spiritual meaning to me as a Catholic, but this Bible was also a tool used to erase Native people’s culture and tradition,” she said. “These contradictions are present throughout our history. I stand before you now as a leader of an executive office of Minnesota, an office that oversaw horrific treatment of my ancestors.”
Walz, the last to be sworn in, thanked his predecessor Gov. Mark Dayton (D-MN) for putting “people first” and leaving “us a better Minnesota.” Throughout his inaugural address, he repeatedly emphasized his commitment to improving Minnesota’s public education system, which he worked in as a teacher for many years.
“Foundational to our past, present, and future is the quality of our people, and that all begins with education,” he said. “Every student in Minnesota deserves the opportunity to learn at the best schools in the country with caring, qualified teachers. But as I traveled around this state I saw how the quality of a student’s education is often far too dependent on their race or their zip code.”
He vowed to “make Minnesota the ‘education state’ for all children—black, white, brown, and indigenous.”
“In sum, it means valuing the greatest of American institutions: public education,” he said to applause. Later in his address, he called on Minnesotans to “reaffirm our Minnesota value that healthcare is a basic human right.”
“We find ourselves at a time when economic, social, racial, and geographic division feels rampant. I will not normalize behavior that seeks to deepen or exploit these divides,” Walz said. “I will not normalize policies that are not normal, ones that undermine our decency and respect. If Washington won’t lead, Minnesota will.”
Following the inauguration, there was a public reception hosted at the State Capitol Monday afternoon.
State Auditor Julie Blaha was also sworn in Monday. Minnesota’s new legislative session will begin Tuesday, and Walz is expected to release his first budget proposal in February.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image “Governor Tim Walz” by Governor Time Walz.