Thank you all for joining me today and welcome to all of the distinguished public servants here, members of the clergy, other honored guests, my extended family, friends and all the citizens throughout our great state, a special mention to my great friend Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, and a special mention to the former First Lady Nikki O’Neill, the wife of the late great Governor O’Neill, and my beloved wife, Cathy, and our terrific boys, Dannel, Ben and Sam.
Thank you for being here to mark a crucial cornerstone in our democracy – the transfer of responsibilities and the conveyance of hope for our collective future, from one gubernatorial administration to the next.
I wanted to express my gratitude to each of you for being here and sharing this moment with me. And I also want to talk with you about this moment in Connecticut’s history, our great challenges, what I see as a crossroads of crisis and opportunity; and how if we are all willing to engage in a shared sense of sacrifice, we can realize shared prosperity for everyone in Connecticut.
I would like to start by acknowledging my predecessor, who knows something about sacrifice and public service. Governor Rell stepped into the role of Governor at a time when our state was in a different kind of crisis, a crisis of confidence in the character and intentions of its leadership. She worked tirelessly to restore that sense of respectability, and she will hold a special place in our hearts because of her efforts.
There are many others who know about sacrifice and public service, heroes worthy of Connecticut’s proud 375-year history – and they are the brave men and women from our great state who are serving in our Armed Forces in two wars and across the globe today. I hope and pray that we will have peace someday soon. And I thank them for their dedication to their country.
Today, I stand before you deeply honored by the office I am assuming, and by the essence of integrity, trust, hope and potential that this office represents for the people of Connecticut.
Humbled by the sense of history that lives within the soul of our great state.
Thoroughly grounded by our modern-day challenges.
Yet intrinsically optimistic about our prospects for a prosperous future which itself is worthy of the foundation that our ancestors worked so hard to give us.
And what a foundation it is.
In our innovative heyday we had more patents issued per capita than any other state in the union. We defined the American industrial revolution on a global basis and consequently enjoyed the highest per capita income of anywhere in the nation. We will forever be home to the world-class legacies of Harriett Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Eli Whitney, Prudence Crandall, and so many others.
Perhaps nowhere was our character better defined than by Abraham Davenport of my hometown of Stamford when he spoke about The Dark Day in 1780. He was a public servant in Hartford when a mysterious episode brought darkness to the daytime skies throughout New England. There was a prevailing belief that Judgment Day was upon the land, threatening a shutdown of the Legislature, when Davenport stood and said:
“I am against an adjournment. The Day of Judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”
Today, we could use a few candles. Because as most people in Connecticut know, ours is not a pretty picture.
Today I see an economic crisis and an employment crisis, both fueled by an unfriendly employer environment, a lack of educational resources, a deteriorating transportation system, and an enormous budget crisis of historic proportions. All coddled by a habit of political sugarcoating that has passed our problems onto the next generation.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, the next generation is here. And we bring enough energy to make Abraham Davenport proud as we shine a light not only on Connecticut’s problems, but on workable solutions that will leave our great state much better than how we found her.
If Davenport would be proud of our work ethic, my late mother would be proud of our mission.
My parents both worked very hard while raising eight children, but my mother, who was a nurse, knew I was different. She knew I had learning disabilities, but she never let those challenges overshadow my strengths. She never gave up on me, and in doing so she taught me to never give up, to press on, to recognize challenges but focus on strengths, and possibilities.
She focused her children on the importance of character, hard work, dedication, and love of family. And she repeatedly challenged us to leave the world a better place for having been here.
And that is our mission: to leave Connecticut a better place than we found her.
I see boundless opportunities to do just that.
We will need to reach deep to our roots, those of strength yet compassion, steadfastness yet innovation. And, most importantly, we will need to solve our problems together – by pursuing with great urgency not Republican ideas or Democratic ideas, but good ideas that know no political master or agenda.
I will be addressing a joint session of the General Assembly in just a few moments, where I will begin to outline the framework for making Connecticut a better place. And I will provide a great deal more detail in my Budget Address later next month. In those addresses I will put forth ideas, and I will issue challenges for new and courageous ways to understand and solve our most intractable problems.
I believe that Connecticut’s best days are ahead – if we join together in what must be a shared, emerging movement for rational, honest, achievable change. A movement that restores economic vitality, creates jobs and returns Connecticut to fiscal solvency by establishing our means and living within them.
We will do these things so that in the future we can celebrate shared prosperity for us all, which on balance can only come from shared sacrifice from each of us.
It’s not going to be an easy road, but the question is not whether we can overcome our challenges and emerge a winner. We already know we can from our history. And I know from personal experience that we can. When I became Mayor of Stamford, it was a classic case of a dying industrial city. We transformed it into a world-class financial center – sparking an economic, cultural and environmental renaissance that gained national attention.
I believe the people of Connecticut are willing to make sacrifices if “shared sacrifice” is really shared, that we understand where we’re going, and that it is sacrifice with a purpose.
At this crossroads of crisis and opportunity, I believe we will hold fast to our heritage – while we reach deep, rally hard and choose well to leave Connecticut a better place.
To all of you, thank you. God bless you, God bless the Great State of Connecticut, and God bless the United States of America.