Branstad’s 2011 Inaugural for term #5 (AUDIO)

What follows is a live blog of the Inaugural of Governor Terry Branstad, the Republican who won a fifth term in November.  (Read the Radio Iowa story of today’s event and listen to Branstad’s speech here.)

At 9:12 a.m. the parade of dignitaries began.  The crowd stood but did not applaud as each of the four justices on the Iowa Supreme Court were introduced, followed by the members of the Iowa Court of Appeals.  The next people introduced were U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and his wife, Barbara, and the crowd applauded them.  The audience then applauded the rest of the dignitaries who were introduced: Congressman Leonard Boswell, former Governor Robert Ray, former Lieutenant Governors Joy Corning and Sally Pederson.

The parade continues, with the staff of Governor-elect Branstad being introduced. There was a brief pause before the crowd applauded the “State of Iowa Dep;artment heads”  The leaders of Iowa’s two political parties are here — Matt Strawn and Sue Dvorsky.

Legislative leaders are being introduced, to be followed by all the legislators who are here.  Just so you know, the event is already about 15 minutes behind schedule at this point.  Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines is the site for today’s festivities.  A wide red span of carpet covers the aisle through the middle of the sea of chairs.  The processional music for today’s festivities is being provided by the Iowa National Guard band.

Holy cow!  An email just came into my inbox.  Governor Chet Culver has just appointed another district court judge this morning (no, he didn’t appoint a supreme court justice).  So that may be Culver’s last official act.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic was sung by John Cheatem. For the last two stanzas Linda Juckette joined him.  The two then sang God Bless America. Both have sung at the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines.

The crowd just applauded as Chief Justice Mark Cady was introduced.  Archbishop Hanus was to deliver the invocation, but can’t be here for health reasons.  Bishop Amos, from Sioux City, gave the opening prayer in his place.

Just before 9:50 a.m. Kim Reynolds took the oath of office. She told the crowd she is “eager to serve” and she paid tribute to several members of her family, including her mother-in-law who died in December.  Here is the text of her speech:

Governor and Mrs. Branstad, Governor Ray, Chief Justice Cady, my colleagues in the General Assembly, elected officials, distinguished guests, family, friends and fellow Iowans. 

Thank you for being here this morning.

Senator Danielson, thank you for that kind introduction. 

I stand here today as a proud but humble southern Iowa girl.  Daughter of a factory worker and small farmer, a quiet but strong mother, parents who raised me knowing the importance of faith and family, to always tell the truth, and with a deep regard for personal responsibility.  I stand here as your Lieutenant Governor, full of pride and anticipation, and eager to serve the people of this great state.

To my parents, Charles and Audrey thank you for your love, encouragement, never ending support and for instilling in us the American Dream – that we could do anything, be anybody. For teaching us to treat people with respect, work hard and believe in ourselves; that if we do that, all things are possible.
To my husband, Kevin, thank you for being the most loving and understanding person in my life, and for being an amazing father and role model to our daughters, Nicole, Jen and Jessica.  Through the tough times and with each NEW challenge, guided by our faith each of you has been my source of strength. Thanks for keeping me grounded and real; for believing in me; for the many sacrifices; and for the endless encouragement that has led to this day.

To my mother-in-law, Ramona, who this December lost her battle with cancer.  A wife and mother who became a widow at age 35 with 6 young children to raise by herself on the farm. Thank you for raising a patient, thoughtful, sometimes stubborn son, who is a loving and caring husband, dad and grandpa.
Through your courage, strength, giving nature, dignity and faith you gave us a wonderful example of how to live life. 
Thank you to all the county treasurers, Republican and Democrat, across the state – my second family – for your friendship, support and for setting a great example of what public servants can accomplish when they embrace change, focus on service and work together.

And, to you, Governor Branstad, thank you for the confidence you have shown in me to serve as your lieutenant governor.  You are an inspiration to me and to all who serve the public, for your selfless devotion to our state.  Your leadership, Integrity, love for this state and your tireless work on behalf of others sets a high bar that challenges and motivates not only me but all those around you. 

Today, we have before us a new Iowa, new challenges, new hopes and new opportunities.  A new Iowa built on our tried and true values.

Values of openness – open people with open hearts,

Values of honesty – honest people doing honest work

Values of caring – caring for each other, our children, parents, neighbors and our communities.

Values of family – The fundamental bedrock of our society, to be strengthened and protected if we are to realize our potential.
Values of Personal Responsibility- Not expecting others to do for us what we can do for ourselves, leading by example.

Those are the values we start with – values passed down from generation to generation by our ancestors who worked the fields, built the towns, started the industry.

Those values remain with us today.  They are the foundation (building blocks) of the new Iowa we will shape together.

It begins by listening to you, all Iowans.  Because no person, no party, no pundit has a monopoly on good ideas.  This is your government.

Together, we will work with you, with the leaders of your communities and neighborhoods to keep our main streets vibrant and open, to promote and market Iowa to the World that in turn will bring jobs and prosperity to every corner of Iowa.

Together, we will redefine the role and structure of government; a limited, transparent, smaller government, which focus on essential services, infrastructure, safety, and quality education, a partner rather than an obstacle in reaching our goals.

Together, we will reshape education.  To make sure that from pre-school to the universities you have access to the best education in the world.
This new Iowa will require open minds, a willingness to do things different, to embrace change.  We no longer will be able to do things the way we have always done.  None of this will be easy.  But it is long overdue and it is the right thing to do.  It is with great challenges that we find great opportunities.
It can and will be done.  We can use technology to both reduce the size of government and deliver services to Iowans more efficiently.  We can work together – state and local – public and private – to transform the way we deliver services to Iowans.  With a little “out-of-the-box” thinking can stretch our services and better utilize our dollars.

I believe in Iowans and the heart of Iowa is my passion – The families, small communities and neighborhoods, the quality of life that make Iowa such a special place.  My focus will be on creating an environment where business owners choose to invest in our workforce and our communities where good jobs can be found all across Iowa.  And policies that reinforce family values thus strengthening the family unit, which is the backbone of our state. 

But government can only do so much.  And often it becomes involved in too much or only when it is too late.

It is up to each of us – as leaders in our families and communities – to step up and do what is right without the expectation of honor or glory. 
Let our reward be instead the satisfaction that comes from leaving our children a brighter future a better Iowa…. In the words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

And in that same spirit of service I cannot help but recall my visit to the home of the Pender family – Jim and Michelle – of Windsor Heights. 
They are the parents of five adopted special needs children.  They range in age from 14 to 21.  Despite their handicaps, the oldest 4 are all looking forward to their lives as adults.

The youngest – 14 year-old Rachael – has cerebral palsy – the result of a stroke she suffered in the womb because her biological mother used methamphetamines.  Rachael can’t speak, and moves only with the help of a wheelchair.

I had the opportunity to spend a morning with Rachael and her parents, from waking Rachael, to getting her dressed, fixing her hair, feeding her breakfast, and despite a few challenges with her wheelchair I got her on the school bus.  It was a very moving morning and the smile on her face as she boarded the bus will be with me always.  Rachael inspires all who come in contact with her by her undaunted spirit. 
She inspired me.  As her mother Michele said, “She teaches others about life. Her life is different, but like her brothers and sisters, she’s no less worthwhile.” It was Rachel’s love of life in spite her challenges that really touched my heart.

The Penders don’t limit their caring to their children.  Whenever anyone elderly or sick needs help, they are the first ones there.

Why do they do it?  They’ll be the first to tell you they are not special, just as Jim says, “we are doing the best we can with whatever God has chosen to give us to do that day.

My fellow Iowans let us all do the best we can with what God has given us.  If we can do that, I have no doubt that Iowa’s best days are still ahead of us we will make a difference and will leave Iowa a better place for generations to come. 

Thank you! God bless you and the great state of Iowa.

At 10:11 a.m. Branstad took the oath of office.  His wife, Chris, held the Bibleon which he placed his hand.  “Congratulations, governor,” Cady said as he shook his hand.  “Thank you very much.”  Branstad and Chris hugged, then Branstad dug into the lectern for his copy of his speech.   The program, by the way, is a little ahead of schedule now.

Branstad praised House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.  “I look forward to the day when I witness the swearing in of the first woman governor of Iowa,” Branstad told the two.  “It’s about time.”  The crowd applauded.  (Branstad has defeated four men and one woman — Bonnie Campbell — in his quest to earn five terms as governor.)

Here’s the text of Brantad’s speech:

Madam  Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Speaker, Madam and Mr. Leader, Mr. Chief Justice, justices and judges, legislators, elected officials,  distinguished guests, relatives and friends.

Senator Danielson, thank you for that introduction. 

Even though Governor Culver is not with us today, I want to thank him on behalf of all Iowans for his service.

Leader Upmeyer, let me congratulate you on being the first woman to be elected as a majority leader in the history of our state.  We are all proud of you.  Your dad, Del, I’m sure is smiling down on us today, proud as can be. 

Lieutenant Governor Reynolds, thank you for those inspirational remarks.  In you, I think I’ve finally met my match in energy and passion for Iowa.

I look forward to the day when we can witness the swearing in of our first woman Governor.  It is about time.

For the past 15 months, I have traveled our state, from river to river, border to border, from farm to factory, from cafe to office building. 

It has been the experience of a lifetime.  To reconnect with Iowans at their jobs, schools, places of worship and play.  To have a conversation with them about our state, where we are and where we, as a people, want to go.

And what I would like to do today, on this, the occasion of my fifth inaugural as your Governor, is tell you what I learned.  To make my humble attempt to distill our collective wisdom into a statement of principles, a new covenant between a state and its people.

This new covenant must have as its polestar the fact that Iowa is an exceptional place.
We are blessed with the richest resources of soil and water, which are the envy of the world.  Populated by hard working, honest and caring people, this land feeds and powers the world. 

And, ignited by our ingenuity, we have only scratched the surface of our potential.

Iowa stands at the precipice of opportunity greater than at any time since our ancestors crossed the Mississippi to view an expanse of prairie as far as the eye could see.  With the advent of open markets, a growing world middle class, and a need for sustainable solutions to the world’s problems, Iowa sits in the catbird seat of history.

The world is hungry for our food and biomass, envious of our technology, pining for our productivity.  The economic winds, which for a century or more blew in our face, are now firmly at our back.

Iowa is exceptional and these are exceptional times.  Our challenge:  to seize the day.

To those who say that our goals of 200,000 new jobs and 25% increase in family incomes are too high, I say, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  Only wrong-headed policy choices can prevent us from entering a golden era in Iowa history.
And, we must start with government.  It must change, lest it dampen our opportunity and squelch the individual initiative which is our engine for growth.

Our old ways of doing the government’s business must be radically altered to do the people’s business.  We must be rid of the yoke of government which taxes us too much, spends too much and regulates us too much.  Government must, as Abraham Lincoln once said, do only that which the people cannot do for themselves.

That is new covenant principle number one:  we have too much government – state, county, city, school, local – and it must be reduced.  For too long, we have papered over the fact that our appetite for government exceeds our pocket book to pay for it.
As my 86 year old dad, Edward, who is with us today would say “our eyes are bigger than our wallet.” 

Our auditor tells us that at least 15% must be permanently eliminated from government to make our books balance once and for all.  And I aim to make sure we do it and do it now.

We will all share in the sacrifice, while protecting those who need our help.  But we will remove the lead boots of excess government from our economy.  And without that burden, we will be able to run like the wind in the race to prosperity.

Second, government must serve the people.  And not vice versa.  Leadership is about service, not power.  I stand here, again, as your Governor, with my wife, kids and grandkids at my side, because I yearn to serve.  And I ask each government employee, from the clerks to the supervisors, to the department heads, to never forget:  it is the people who are our bosses.

And we must serve each other, without the compulsion of government.

In 1835, as Alexis de Tocqueville toured the United States, he noticed that Americans were different from Europeans.  He said, “wherever at the head of some new undertaking you see the government in France, or . . . England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association.”
That is still true today.  Every day Iowa’s volunteers make our state the wonderful place it is to live, work and raise a family.

The Boone Hope Foundation is a great example.  Kids were coming to school without a warm coat, or hungry, tired, sick or worried about their family.  Teachers, like many others throughout Iowa, used their own funds to help those kids, knowing that students can’t learn when their basic needs are not met.

Those caring teachers helped start the Boone Hope Foundation, which since 2005 has raised over $129,000 from community donations to help students and their families in times of crisis.  Groceries, medical bills, eyeglasses, snow boots and mittens have all been provided to children in need because a community cares.

Let us all renew our commitment to get involved:  help the homeless, feed the hungry, minister to the sick, pray for the wayward.  To make each of our communities better by stepping up and stepping out.  And to those who are most fortunate, we bear a special responsibility to extend the ladder of opportunity to those in need.

We need look no further than the record number of Iowans who are currently deployed in the armed forces.  From Salvatore Giunta to Anthony Sellers, our service men and women protect us every day with their valor and sacrifice.  We all know the story of Salvatore Giunta, our most recent recipient of the Medal of Honor.  And all Iowans are “busting their buttons” proud of him for his bravery, courage, and steely resolve.

I doubt that many of you know Sgt. Anthony Sellers of Burlington but I was privileged to meet him – introduced to me by his proud father Kent. Kent is a veteran himself confined now to a wheelchair, but beaming about his son who has completed two tours in Iraq and is now in Fort Benning to prepare for another deployment. 

Anthony, like the thousands of other Iowans who have answered the call of freedom, embodies the spirit of selfless service that makes our state and country that “shining city on a hill” that Tom Paine wrote about over two centuries ago.  Surely, we can use their example as inspiration.

Third, it is time to restore integrity and transparency to our government decision-making processes.  In Iowa, we have prided ourselves on limited, but quality, government services.  When government said it would do something, it did it, and for the right reasons.  Our problems were serious, but manageable, and, as people of good faith, we rolled up our sleeves and solved them.

But we’ve gotten off track.  We’ve over-promised and under-delivered, turning solutions into problems.  Iowans deserve better.  We will get back on track with a slimmer, better managed and sustainable government you can count on when you need it.  And it will start by opening up to the people our budgets, briefings and the like.  Sunshine remains the best cure for what ails our government.

The fourth principal of our new covenant in Iowa must be a renewed commitment to provide the best education in the world.  Providing Iowa’s children with a globally competitive education is key to their future – and the future of this state.  Employers say they need a better-prepared, better-trained work force.   That means higher expectations for schools.

Sadly, where once Iowa’s educational system was the envy of the world, today it is in the middle of the pack.

Our young people must be able to think critically, solve problems and communicate effectively. 

They need a strong background in math, science, English and social studies.  The bar is continually being raised in a knowledge-based economy.

It is time to put in place reforms that are hallmarks of high-performing school systems – starting with assuring there is a first-rate teacher in every classroom.

The new year is an opportunity for Iowans to have a conversation about how to accomplish this.  How can we attract more top students into the teaching profession?  What do good, experienced teachers need to become more effective instructors? 

And how do we get rid of teachers whose students consistently do not learn enough – even after those teachers have received coaching to improve?
I plan to convene an education summit with some of the top education leaders in our nation and state to benchmark Iowa’s status and lay out a plan for legislative consideration that will give our kids the best education in the world.

But it is not just schools that must do more.  Teaching children the value of a good education is the job of parents.  Instilling the importance of lifelong learning not just by words but by example will help families and Iowa prosper.  It is time for all of us to get involved.

Finally, we must celebrate success.  Our tax system, whether it be property or income taxes punishes those who create the jobs we need.  That will change.  Both will be reduced and simplified. 

The job creators will be rewarded; they are welcome here and it is about time our tax system reflects that fact.

As with our tax system, so must our attitudes toward success, change.

While our modesty in the face of success is sometimes charming, it can too often limit our reach. 

Alex Haley once said that we should “find the good and praise it.” 

In our state and in our communities, we should find success and praise it.  We should reward responsible risk-taking, for it is only through the creation of a spirit of entrepreneurship that all parts of our state, rural and urban, will grow.  That is the ticket to bringing our sons and daughters home and giving all who live here a chance to share in our bounty.

That, then, is what I learned on my travels around our state.  Iowans have worked harder, sacrificed more and tightened their belts further as they endured the Greatest Recession since the Great Depression.  And now it is time for government to do the same.

It is time for a new covenant between Iowans and their government.  It is a covenant that is founded upon principles of limited government, service above self, transparency and integrity, world class schools and celebrating the success of Iowans.

These are the principles that will guide my days as your Governor.  The collective wisdom of Iowans will inspire me every day as I strive to give Iowans a government as good as the people it serves. 

I ask all of you, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, old and young, to join me in that effort.

No one of us has all the answers, but together, we cannot fail.

One long day on the campaign trail, I was visiting with some folks in a small town café.  One of the farmers, who appeared to be in his 80’s asked me what I wanted to accomplish by running for governor again. 

Well, I rattled off our goals and then stopped and looked at him and asked him what he felt he had accomplished in his days.  He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye, took a long sip of coffee and shifted his feet.  “Well,” he said, “I left my farm better than I found it.”

When our days are done, when our time has come, we will be asked, how do we wish to measure our days? 

I, for one, remember that farmer in that café:  I hope to leave the state better than I found it.  If all of us would approach our days with that same sense of stewardship, we will have fulfilled our mission.

With your help and Godspeed that will be the case.  And the remarkable history of an exceptional state will march on, unabated…Thank you, God bless you and God bless the great state of Iowa.

Branstad’s speech ended at about 10:35 a.m.  His speech was 21 minutes long.  Reynolds spoke for 11 minutes.  Pastor Chuck DeVos of the Osceola Assembly of God — Kim Reynolds’ pastor — delivered the invocation.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.