July 26, 2009
With the Riverboat Nenana as a backdrop, Parnell told the crowd that he won't be constrained by a short-term vision, but instead will focus on Alaska's future for this generation and the next.
Photo courtesy Office of the Governor
Lieutenant General Craig Campbell was sworn in as temporary substitute lieutenant governor. Campbell is expected to be confirmed by the legislature during a special session August 10.
The oaths of office were administered by Supreme Court Justice Daniel Winfree.
Governor Palin offered a farewell address. "There's much good in store for Alaska further down the road," she said. "But to reach it we must value and live the optimistic pioneering spirit that made this state proud and free."
The swearing-in ceremony took place at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks.
Governor Parnell will remain in Fairbanks Monday to meet with local officials, community leaders and the media. He will meet with his cabinet on Wednesday in Juneau.
As Alaskans, we've learned through the years to expect the unexpected. We're resilient, we take what comes, we face our challenges squarely with determination and an eye toward victory.
Governor Palin, General Atkins, Lt. Governor Campbell, family, friends, and fellow Alaskans, I am honored and humbled to stand as your governor. Alaskans, you are my witnesses, I've given my pledge, my promise to serve you, to follow in the footsteps of remarkable people, and to lead with integrity and vision.
Alaska, from the Aleut word Alyeska, the great land. And make no mistake, we are great. We're the largest state in the nation, blessed with lush green forest, soaring peaks, crystal clear water, abundant minerals, oil, gas, fish & game. Alaska is indeed a great land.
And, Alaskans are a great people. Our Native elders who ensure the preservation of their rich history and bridge the gap between young and old, passing their culture from one generation to the next. From the earliest days when Alaska's first people settled the land, to the gold rush of the late 1800s, to statehood, and even today, our people have sacrificed much and contributed much to the state and nation we are today. Alaskans are a great people.
Alaska still has much more to offer its people and our nation, and given today's economic climate, the stakes are high, time is of the essence, and you have my commitment to work with you and for you to position our economy for growth and our children and families for opportunity.
On December 4, 2006, Governor Sarah Palin and I swore an oath to the constitution of the state of Alaska to serve this great state. I placed my hand on the Bible just moments ago and pledged once again to uphold the constitution. To be here in Fairbanks today is fitting. It brings us back full-circle. For, 54 years ago, on a hill not far from here, our delegates wrote Alaska's constitution.
Today we peacefully transfer power - a transfer envisioned by those delegates. I'm delighted that a few of those visionaries remain among us today, people like former Lieutenant Governor Jack Coghill, who is with us today. We thank these wonderful people, all the constitutional delegates and staff for their lasting service, determination, and love for Alaska.
Today, I also want to honor and say thank you to Governor Sarah Palin, Todd, and the Palin and Heath families. I am thankful to have served alongside such an honorable, good and decent human being.
From the beginning of her administration, Governor Palin set about to restore trust and to build a future for Alaskans. She stood up for all of us with respect to the gas line, resource development, energy, education, and more.
Thank you, governor, for holding fast to your principles; for your enduring faith; for your love of all Alaskans. Thank you for standing up and taking the tough stands for the people of this great state. And, thank you for striving in your heart of hearts to put Alaska and Alaskans first. Let's hear it for Governor Palin.
And, thank you, Lt. Governor Campbell & Ann Marie, for being willing to step into this new assignment. Craig, your conservative voice on fiscal issues and your National Guard service are both qualities I appreciate and respect about you. Sandy and I look forward to continued service with you both in these new roles.
The year was 1954. The vessel that sits behind me, the S. S. Nenana, made its final journey up the Tanana River. For a generation, this mighty watercraft connected our Interior river communities.
But by 1954, time had passed the Riverboat Nenana by. The modern aviation age and other transportation infrastructure came to Alaska, spelling the end of the riverboat era. There were more efficient ways to move people and goods around our vast state. The S.S. Nenana went from a vital economic link to a museum piece.
As Alaska embarks on its next 50 of statehood, we face a critical question: Will Alaska move forward, or will time pass us by? How do we create a strong economy for the next half-century? How do we as people, and as families, thrive, and not just survive?
First, we affirm our core principles: That all are created equal, and that life and freedom are precious; that all political power belongs to you, the people; and, that as Alaskans we own our state's vast and abundant resources.
In affirming life and freedom, we take time here to honor our military, guardians of these precious rights. Alaska has almost 10,000 men and women deployed at this time, thousands more serving on our soil, and thousands more in military families and close friends. Our Alaska family acknowledges and honors the sacrifices made by these many today and of our veterans. We say a great thank you to the men and women who selflessly serve us in the armed services.
Having spoken to our core values, I turn now to our two priorities: the economy and our families. Let me address the economy first. On economic policy, I will not be constrained by a short-term view of our economy, but instead will focus on Alaska's future. We will build a legacy economy, for this generation and the next.
Many of us feel the uncertainty of today's global recession and the weight of high energy prices. Alaska is not immune from this economic downdraft and we will continue to weather this storm for some time. In our rural communities where the subsistence and cash economy intersect, Alaskans struggle to pay for gas to get to and operate fish camps where runs are thin, leaving people concerned about food for the winter. And, good-paying jobs there are too few and seasonal rather than permanent.
In our urban communities, businesses are stretched, people spend less, and jobs are impacted. Amidst this news, we will not stand idle. We will position Alaska for investment and economic growth. And, we will train and educate more Alaskans for jobs.
State government will do this by maintaining a stable tax regime, and we should stop nickel and diming Alaskans at the pump for increased fuel taxes. We will be disciplined in our spending and focus on results for you. By doing so, state government can help produce an economic climate ripe for job creation.
The well-being of our economy and people depends in significant part on cheaper energy. And, thanks to Governor Palin's leadership, we have a team working on in-state gas options for Alaskans. We remain committed to that work and will continue driving hard to assure Alaska's resources power Alaskans' homes.
We completed an assessment of energy resources and opportunities close to our villages and cities. What this means is that cheaper energy is within our reach. It is now our communities' challenge and responsibility to band together, evaluate what energy resources are close at hand, and take charge of our energy future. We can do this! Next, I'm happy to report that the economic opportunity of a generation lies closer than ever. Today, credible entities pursue a natural gas pipeline where just two and half years ago, all were high-centered, motionless. I will continue the sound course set by Governor Palin and the legislature in AGIA and put the interests of Alaskans first.
But it's not just about big, mega-projects. It's about other resource development and service industries. And, it's about the backbone of our economy, our small businesses.
I know the challenges that our small businesses face, because I've been there. I ran a small business here in Alaska for years, as did my parents before me. I will work to reduce costs and increase opportunities for small businesses, and to help our entrepreneurs keep more of what they earn.
Ten years from now, I want it said that Alaska inspires and grows dreams. I want it said that in Alaska our young people can see and seize opportunity for themselves. I want Alaska to be a place where owning a small business leads to greater financial security, and where larger businesses look at us as a great place to invest and create jobs.
Still, I recognize that our future isn't just determined by the economy. The health and restoration of our families also determines our destiny. And Alaska families feel the strain.
Walk into any Title 1 funded school and you will find kindergarten teachers trying to calm children traumatized at home. Visit a domestic violence shelter and see women and children suffering. Understand the hardships in rural Alaska, where heating fuel costs over eight dollars a gallon. Attend a high school graduation and ask yourself, "Where are the freshman who were here just four years ago?"
Clearly our young people and families are challenged and government can't solve every problem. In the last two and a half years, our administration has increased funding for domestic violence and sexual assault programs, brought nonprofit resources together to feed those who before were forced to choose between paying for heating oil or paying for food and worked to provide fuel cost relief. And we've taken major steps in improving education. But there is still much to do.
I want Alaska to be a place where every child has a safe home or a safe home to go to. I want Alaska to be a place where every child has the right to earn his or her way to college or job training, so that our graduation rates improve and they graduate ready for work. And, I will assure that Alaska continues to help the neediest among us, whether younger or our elders, from public and private resources.
Let me close by asking those crucial questions once again: In the next 50 years, will Alaska move forward, or will time pass us by? Will each of us be a vital player or will we stay on the bench? Will we just survive or will we choose to thrive?
Here's my challenge to you. Set your face and hand to Alaska's future. Run with me to take responsibility for it. Be involved. This is your state, these are your resources. Take heart, be strong and courageous, lean into your role in this Alaska family. Together, we can make a difference.
Like those who have served
before me, I am firmly convinced that Alaska's greatest days
are ahead. And, that's because I believe in you and because I
know that our Creator isn't through with us yet. God bless you,
and God bless the state of Alaska.
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