Jared Polis on Tuesday was sworn in as Colorado’s 43rd Governor, becoming the state’s first Jewish governor and the country’s first out gay man to be elected a state’s chief executive officer.
And his first act as governor? A selfie with the crowd.
It was a light moment for Polis, 43, a tech-savvy politician and self-proclaimed “gaymer” who was elected during one of the most dramatically one-sided elections in recent Colorado memory. He took his oath and addressed Coloradans as governor for the first time from the steps of the State Capitol on Tuesday morning during a picturesque day in Denver.
“My fellow Coloradans, it is with amazing gratitude, humility, pride, optimism — optimism for our future — that I speak for the very first time as Colorado’s 43rd Governor,” Polis said on Tuesday. “I am honored by this great responsibility and I’m humbled by your trust.”
Polis became the biggest winner of the so-called Blue Wave that swept the state and prompted questions over whether Colorado remains a purple state after Democrats took the state’s top executive offices and both chambers in the General Assembly. He’s expected to bring a progressive mindset to the Governor’s Mansion, including providing free universal preschool and all-day kindergarten, expanding health care coverage for residents, and increasing renewable energy use.
“Our mission now is to make Colorado a place where all families have the chance to thrive today, tomorrow and for generations to come,” Polis said.
Wherever he went during the campaign trail, Polis said, he heard from people who were struggling. He wants to make Colorado a place where everyone can get a chance to share in prosperity — a common theme among Democrats who have a similar vision in the General Assembly.
“He — like all of us here — is committed to putting politics aside to get the job done on behalf of hardworking people of our entire state,” House Speaker KC Becker said. “Together, we are driven to build an economy that expands opportunity for all, to invest in our future and to protect the Colorado way of life, to ensure we have a Colorado for all.”
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock attended the inauguration, later calling a “historic day for all Coloradans” in a prepared statement.
“With so much dysfunction in our nation’s capital and a White House displaying government at its worst, our state will show government at its best – embracing immigrants, expanding opportunity and affordability, and creating equity for all the people,” Hancock said in the statement. “I look forward to partnering with Gov. Polis and delivering a Colorado for All.”
In his remarks, Polis said the nation is experiencing divisiveness and tribalism, but Colorado has rejected the negative and divisive politics.
“But here in Colorado, we chose a different path,” Polis said. “Here, we have come so far, we’ve climbed so high, we’ve done so much, not just to say but to show that we reject negative and divisive brand of politics.”
He added that past governors — including those who were on hand during Tuesday’s ceremony — have helped keep a tradition of embracing politics built on collaboration and integrity. He called John Hickenlooper “extraordinary” and cited him for helping transform the state’s economy into “the envy of the nation.”
The former Congressman replaces term-limited Hickenlooper, a centrist politician with his eyes on the White House. Hickenlooper looked back at his first inauguration, calling his first four years the hardest as the state dealt with a mass shooting, wildfires and a major floor. It was a state that wasn’t as economically vibrant.
“It has been the greatest gift to be your governor, to be your mayor. Thanks for taking a chance on me,” Hickenlooper said at the inauguration. “One last time: Giddy up!”
A former entrepreneur who made millions in online commerce ventures, Polis will inherit one of the country’s strongest economies.
Polis and his partner Marlon Reis, now the first gentleman, were joined on stage by their two children, Caspian and Cora. He was sworn-in alongside Dianne Primavera, his lieutenant governor. Primavera is the sixth woman to serve in the position.
Polis thanked his Republican opponent in the general election and former State Treasurer Walker Stapleton during his remarks on Tuesday. Stapleton, who’s grown a beard since disappearing from the public spotlight, posted a message on Twitter on Tuesday congratulating the new governor (and announcing he will be serving the state of Colorado for at least one more day).
“Good luck, Governor Polis,” Stapleton said. “Best of luck and I hope I get a chance to congratulate you in person.”
Polis is scheduled to deliver the State of the State address to the General Assembly on Thursday. He said the speech will detail his administration’s approach to the state’s problems.
“There will always, always be seats at the table for those with constructive input from different perspectives,” Polis said. “We will work to create solutions together.”