Michigan's 49th governor, Gretchen Whitmer (D), pledged to cast partisanship aside to fix the roads and other problems in the state during her inauguration speech on January 1, 2019.
Here is the text of Governor Whitmer's speech released by her transition team:
My friends, my family, my fellow Michiganders:
It is an incredible honor to address you as the 49th governor of the great state of Michigan.
I would not be here today without my family. Sherry, Sydney, Marc, Dad, Liz, Richard:
Thank you for being by my side on this journey and for inspiring me every day. I love you so much.
I am honored to be joined this morning by Governors Snyder, Granholm, and Blanchard.
If the Spartans weren’t on the West Coast and if Governor Milliken were able, there’s no question that he and Governor Engler would be here, too.
Each knows the incredible opportunity in - and sacrifice of - holding this office. Thank you for your service and you attendance today.
As I reflect on the monumental task that lies ahead, another one of my predecessors comes to mind.
Over 60 years ago, Governor G. Mennan Williams - aka “Soapy” Williams – a Democrat – worked with a Republican legislature to build the Mackinac Bridge.
At the time, many people believed building a suspension bridge that long was not possible. Others thought the politicians would not be able to put their differences aside to get it done. They even called it “Soapy’s Folly.”
But together, leaders from both parties, and workers from across the state, proved them all wrong. And in November 1957, against the odds, the Mighty Mac opened.
It connected our peninsulas AND our people. It strengthened our economy. And most of all, it sent a powerful message to the world: Don’t ever bet against Michigan.
In the spirit of that great legacy, I want to recognize the incoming legislative leadership – Senate Majority Leader Shirkey; Senate Democratic Leader Ananich; House Speaker Chatfield; and House Democratic Leader Greig – and all of the members of the legislature who are with us today. I look forward to working with you in the coming weeks and months.
We may belong to different parties, but we are all here for the same reason. We are proud Michiganders, first and foremost. And we owe it to the people we serve to cast partisanship aside. To roll up our sleeves. To build bridges together.
I feel lucky to have called Michigan home, my whole life. I grew up in Grand Rapids. I learned to value community and hard work. I got a world-class education at Michigan State in East Lansing. And law school in Detroit. And then I moved back to East Lansing, near my family. I always knew I would raise my family here.
Because to me, Michigan is more than a place. It’s a way of life.
Up North and the lakes in summer. Football in the fall. Hunkering down at home in the winter. Or at the capitol with thousands of your close friends!
And thawing out in the spring . . . if we’re lucky.
We love our 4 seasons. We’re proud of our traditions.
Of course, what truly makes Michigan special are the people who call it home. Our diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences that strengthen the fabric of our communities – from paczki to pasty… and from miner to motorhead.
And whether you live in Gogebic County, Grosse Ile or Grand Rapids, all Michiganders share some common traits that are part of the legacy we’ve inherited in the state we call home.
Grit. Humility. Dreaming up something new. Building it with our own two hands.
That’s how we became a hotbed of innovation and created music that moved the world.
It’s why Michigan will be forever associated with names like Reuther, Ford, and Aretha.
And it’s why, a century after we led a global manufacturing revolution, we still have the best workforce on the planet – from our farmers and factory workers, to our incredible state employees, who work tirelessly every day to keep Michigan going strong. There’s no place in the world like Michigan.
No people like Michiganders.
And no question that Michigan has as much God-given potential as any place on Earth.
But while potential is universal, opportunity is not.
And right now, in Michigan, too few have the opportunity they deserve. That’s not easy to admit, but we have to be clear-eyed about the challenges we face.
Now is the time to confront our problems head-on and say – in one voice – let's get it done.
Over the past year, as I traveled the state and listened to people’s concerns, the same issues came up over and over and over again.
My campaign slogan got a lot of attention, but I didn’t come up with it. It was a working mom I met at a hospital in Detroit who told me, “Gretchen, I just want you to fix the damn roads.”
I heard similar messages from people in all 83 counties. I heard the same thing from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.
We might live in divisive times, but Michigan’s problems are not partisan problems.
Potholes are not political. Neither is clean water. Or better skills. Or great schools for our kids.
I will be a governor for everyone.
And I am committed to working across party lines to ensure that all Michiganders have opportunity.
That means rebuilding our roads and bridges. Cleaning up our water. And ensuring that everyone gets the education and skills they need to compete for good-paying jobs.
These issues affect us all.
These things are the foundation of secure families, strong communities, and a more prosperous state.
None of us can afford to compromise Michigan’s economic future because we won’t compromise with one another.
Divided government makes solving problems harder, but not impossible.
We need to come together now – not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Michiganders.
So, let’s fix our roads, and be the state that’s not paralyzed by partisanship, but works together.
And create the blueprint for rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure.
Let’s show the rest of the country how to solve America’s literacy crisis, and show them what good government actually looks like.
And let’s build a stronger Michigan that is – once again – a center of economic opportunity and mobility for people around the world.
I’m not saying it's going to be easy. Many will question whether we can protect our families and bolster our economy by fixing those damn roads. They may not believe we have the ingenuity to solve the literacy crisis. And no doubt, some are betting against our ability to close the skills gap.
But we are up to it, Michigan.
We have always defied the odds. And we are going to do it again, together. We are going to prove that our shared future is more powerful than the issues that divide us.
If we put our differences aside and get to work, we will come back stronger than ever.
At a time when too many people want to separate us by building walls, we here in Michigan are going to get back to building bridges together.
The story of the Mackinac Bridge reminds us that we can do great things when we work together.
I know I didn’t get here on my own.
I’m here because, over the past year, the people of Michigan showed up.
At town halls, at rallies, and in record numbers on Election Day.
I am so grateful that you did. But our work is just beginning.
That’s why, today, I’m asking you to keep showing up.
Keep showing your passion for our state – and demanding action from our leaders.
And let’s join forces, as Michiganders, to build bridges together…
Over waters. Between parties. And to a brighter future for all.
Let's get to work Michigan!