Gov. John Kasich cheers with the crowd after his 20-minute speech, which concluded with Ohio State University's Glee Club singing his school alma mater, ‘Carmen Ohio.'
COLUMBUS — "Get ready for an exciting time. Put on your seat belt.''
John Richard Kasich, the 69th governor of Ohio, Monday promised a recession-battered state that its enemy, the status quo, is about to be vanquished.
"The weeds have grown up," he told a packed Ohio Theatre crowd gathered to see him take the oath of office. "The obstacles at times seem great. The light has dimmed for our great state, but I believe that we have not yet begun to fight for our families, our children, and for our legacy."
In a 20-minute speech, short by inaugural standards, the former congressman, regional manager for Lehman Brothers, Fox News pundit, and now current governor said it will take a "team" to "shut down the dark side of human nature that shuts down dreams." He stood before a massive backdrop of the Ohio Statehouse that lifted at the end to reveal the Ohio State University Glee Club as it sang his school's alma mater, "Carmen Ohio."
Monday's speech was all about thank yous and marshaling the troops with no specifics on where the state is going.
But there's been no secret that, with the state facing a potential revenue shortfall in the neighborhood of $8 billion in the next two-year budget, there will be plenty of pain to go around.
"Our enemies are those who selfishly look out only for themselves, the last gasp of air in a coal mine: ‘I want mine,'?" he said.
"They forget that we're all in this together. Don't be selfish. Our enemies are those who refuse to recognize the power of teamwork. They refuse to help raise the bar."
Gov. John Kasich, with his wife, Karen, takes the ceremonial oath of office from Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor. With the couple are their twin 10-year-old daughters, Reese and Emma.
Sounding like a minister one moment and a personal trainer the next, the Republican talked frequently of the team heading forward while bowing to the team that got him to where he is, governor of the seventh-largest state in the nation.
"As Ohio goes, so goes America," he said. "They're watching us. … We are not Republicans. We are not Democrats. We are not liberals, and we are not conservatives. We are Ohioans. We are Buckeyes. Together. It's our mountain to climb. Can you see it? ... We can climb it one step at a time, helping each other to be strong."
Karen Kasich, the new first lady, held the family Bible on which Mr. Kasich put his left hand as he took the oath.
The Bible had been given to him after the death of his parents in an automobile crash.
His 10-year-old twin daughters, Emma and Reese, and their fellow fifth-grade Christian school classmates led the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Shortly after the pomp and circumstance, Mr. Kasich, 58, got down to business, naming new Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor to double duty as superintendent of the Department of Insurance.
He also signed an executive order beginning the process of a top-down review of Ohio's regulations to get at those that businesses claim get in the way of job creation. Ms. Taylor also will lead that effort.
Among those in the crowd were new U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio), former Republican Gov. Bob Taft, new U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), and actor John Ratzenberger, best-known from TV's Cheers.
Monday's public event was purely ceremonial. The son of a mail carrier from McKees Rocks near Pittsburgh, who found a home when he attended Ohio State, took the real oath of office shortly after midnight, minutes after former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland's term officially ended.
New Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor administered the oath both times.
Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook and Governor Kasich share a moment at the inaugural gala after the ceremony.
The name on the door of the Statehouse governor's office, which Mr. Kasich will not use as his base of operations, was restenciled just after midnight.
Mr. Strickland's picture on the home page of state government's Web site, www.ohio.gov, was promptly replaced.
Also sworn in during separate ceremonies were new state Auditor David Yost and Treasurer Josh Mandel. Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted took their oaths Sunday. All are Republicans.
Rep. Matt Szollosi (D., Oregon), who was demoted from speaker pro tempore to assistant minority leader with the Republican takeover in the House, attended the governor's inaugural. He said he wanted to be there, a rare Democrat among a sea of Republicans.
"I'm optimistic about the future,'' he said. "I'm hopeful that Governor Kasich is holding to ideas and perspectives other than the Republican perspective, so that we can work together on solutions to numerous challenges that we're facing. I'm anxious to see his proposals. There has been a lot of rhetoric in the early going. I'm hopeful that we can tone down the rhetoric and work together''
Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township) bought into the Kasich inaugural theme, agreeing that it is "a new day" in Ohio.
"We can no longer put one Band-Aid over the top of another," she said. "We have to rip that clean and start a new one. … Change is always painful. People don't like change whether it's good change or bad change. People fear the idea of change."
Rep. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) said jobs will be Mr. Kasich's priority.
"This governor's probably already worked today on jobs,'' he said. "That would be my expectation. Obviously, we've got at least an $8 billion deficit.
"We can't look the other way any longer. There wasn't enough preparation for this $8 billion deficit. Now that we're here, we've got an obligation to resolve it."
Mr. Kasich must submit his proposed two-year budget to lawmakers by March 15. A final bill must reach his desk by June 30.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com, or 614-221-0496.
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