Text Of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's Inaugural Speech

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's Inaugural Address

"Thank you, Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice; Lieutenant Governor; Mr. Speaker; Governor Musgrove; Governor Huckabee; Senator Cochran; Senator Lott; members of the congressional delegation; Secretary Paige. Fellow state officials, members of the Legislature, friends, family, and fellow Mississippians.

My cousin William read from the Bible that the heart, that my heart should be in the hands of the Lord. A little bit later Derrick Burt will sing "Praise our Faithfulness'' as he reminds us of God's faithfulness to us, and yesterday prayed for us to be faithful to him and his word in the four years to come.

The people of Mississippi can bestow no greater honor on one of its sons or daughters than to elect him governor. I'm deeply honored to serve as your governor, and I'm also humbled - I'm humbled by the enormous trust you've placed in me.

I'll do my utmost to be deserving of that trust. But I'll tell you truly, I'm even more grateful for the opportunity to work with you to give our people, our families, our children the future they deserve. Working together, I know we will do better.

I'd be remiss not to recognize and thank the many thousands of volunteers and donors who supported my campaign - many of you are here today. Nobody has ever been elected to any office by himself, and I am certainly not an exception.

It was the army of grass-roots volunteers, from Biggersville to Bay St. Louis, whose efforts led to the largest turnout ever in a Mississippi governor's race. And that turnout was the key to our victory.

I appreciate every volunteer - but the most important volunteer, my strongest ally and asset, to whom I owe the most, not just in the election but for 32 years of being the best helpmate anyone could ever have: Thank you, Marsha. Thank you.

Allow me to recognize Governor Ronnie Musgrove. Just a few weeks ago we were engaged in a close race; a hard, tough campaign. Since election day, Governor Musgrove and his staff have been both cooperative and gracious. Ronnie, Marsha and I and everybody working with us, appreciate your help and we're looking forward to working with you in the days ahead for the good of Mississippi.

As Governor Musgrove's attitude emphasizes, the election is over - and, as we go forward, this is not about party or politics. It's about solving problems and taking advantage of opportunities. As elected officials, we serve not as Republicans or Democrats, but as public servants whose fellow Mississippians have elected us to move our state forward.

We're not here to represent black or white, urban or rural, north Mississippi or south Mississippi. And let me say to you: My job is to represent the hundreds of thousands of people who voted for Ronnie Musgrove just as much as it is to represent the ones who voted for me, and I am committed to that proposition.

The best way to fulfill that commitment is to establish and maintain a strong, positive, effective working relationship with the Legislature and with our other state officials. Just as nobody ever got elected by himself, no one can govern by himself. Solving problems and seizing opportunities require team work.

My daddy died when I was two-years-old, and my mama raised my two older brothers and me. They are both sitting up here with Marsha and me today. We played team sports, while mama ran the concession stand at the Little League field and served as the first woman president of the Touchdown Club. We learned about playing for the team, about fair play and about supporting our teammates.

Well, governing requires teamwork, too. And I'm glad we're all on the same team. I pledge to you to be a good teammate and a strong leader for our team.

Beginning with the transition that we're just now completing. And with last month's Job Creation Summit, I have sought the participation and counsel of you in the Legislature and of other state and local officials.

Speaker McCoy and Lieutenant Governor Tuck, I want to thank you for your help and efforts, and I want you to know that a large number from both houses have actively participated in the transition and the Jobs Summit. To all of you, I appreciate and will benefit from your input and counsel; and I know, working together, we'll get the job done.

We do face major challenges. Our state has serious problems we must understand and then address. Every one of us who ran for office last year knows job creation is our most urgent need.

We heard from voters about job losses. Often we met with people who had lost their jobs or were afraid of losing their jobs. In their eyes we saw genuine fear for their families' futures. Those grim circumstances still speak to me, and my response is that job creation will be the first immediate goal of my administration.

This occasion is not the time to lay out an agenda or series of policy proposals, though I hope it is clear to everyone that I will pursue in office the principles and policies on which I ran. It must be so because those are the issues that confront our state; the problems that our constituents demand that we address, and address effectively.

Our state's needs are clear to every one of us: Creating and retaining more and better-paying jobs for our citizens, with all the policy implications that entails for education, for the civil justice system, for conservative fiscal policy as well as for economic development programs; combating crime, especially drug crime, so we can have safer communities and safer schools; improving education at every level and better using our improved education systems to strengthen our economy and create more jobs; working for a healthy Mississippi; and making sure our decisions lead to stronger families.

Families are the foundation for success in every area of endeavor. Nothing would improve education more than the active involvement and support of parents and families in our children's schools. Stronger families are the strongest deterrent against drugs and crime.

Whatever the problem, more strong, supportive families would be a key to any solution. In fact, a strong family often is the solution. So, for me, on every issue, whether it is opposing tax increases or protecting the unborn, I will consider the impact of legislation and regulations on Mississippi's families. Strong family values have long been the values on which good government policy has been based.

Individual freedom coupled with personal responsibility; honest hard work; fair play; self-reliance; the rule of law; a strong sense of community; faith in God; a giving spirit. Those are the foundational traits of Americans, and we Mississippians demonstrate these values as well as anyone on the face of the earth.

We live in a changing world. And sometimes change is difficult. Changes that may be for the general good can hurt some people. Changes that ultimately produce positive results may have some short term negative effects.

There are tremendous challenges for Mississippi in this changing world, but strong character and values don't change. These traits of character are among the bedrock strengths that make me confident of Mississippi's future, but we have a lot more going for us than that.

We have beautiful, abundant natural resources and a fabulous location, here in the center of the fastest growing region of the country, flanked by two great waterways, with outstanding ports on the Gulf. We have a warm, wonderful sense of community; fierce patriotism, and not just in times like these. We have strong moral values.

Now we must recharge ourselves with a powerful can-do spirit. Certainly, our best days lie ahead of us, and I firmly believe solving today's problems provides a springboard for seizing tomorrow's opportunities. This is the moment to lift our horizons for Mississippi.

I envision a Mississippi of growth, hope and prosperity; a state that not only produces more and better paying jobs for our working people, but a home - a home that raises up the prospects of all our people and elevates our respect for all our people.

I not only envision Mississippi in new, larger dimensions; I expect it. And I urge you to raise your expectations for our state and our people. Yes, we can do better, but let's go far beyond that.

Let us seize Mississippi's Moment. Let us join together beginning today in a great endeavor to ensure that all the children of our state have the future Mississippi has the potential to offer them. After all, that's the future they deserve.

Many of you have told Marsha and me that you pray for us. Thank you. We appreciate your prayers, and we need your prayers. For with God's help and working together, we can do all this and more.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless our great state and God bless America.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)