Democrat Dan McKee was sworn in for his first full term as Rhode Island's governor Tuesday, saying he has never believed more strongly in the state's future.
“Rhode Island, this is our time, our moment to shine, our turn to raise everyone up,” he said in his remarks. “Now let's get started.”
McKee is a former lieutenant governor who became the state’s chief executive in March 2021 when two-term Gov. Gina Raimondo was tapped as U.S. commerce secretary. He defeated Republican challenger Ashley Kalus in November to win his first full term in office. He began his inaugural address by calling for a moment of silence for Lincoln Almond, a former two-term Republican governor of Rhode Island and longtime U.S. attorney in the state, who died Monday.
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McKee is a lifelong Rhode Islander with decades of public service. He served as mayor of the town of Cumberland and was elected lieutenant governor in 2014. He became the state's 76th governor about a year after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Rhode Island. The health crisis dominated the beginning of his time in office.
He reflected Tuesday on how political leaders and residents came together to get people vaccinated and back to work, to get students back to school safely and quickly and to help the economy recover.
“Reminding ourselves of that success is important because it shows that when we work together as one team, we can accomplish what we set out to do,” McKee said. “Our past success reminds us of the enormous and exciting potential of our state’s future.”
In a departure from tradition, McKee held his inauguration ceremony inside the Rhode Island Convention Center instead of outside the State House to avoid the cold weather expected during the first week of January. Temperatures were in the 40s with a steady rain Tuesday in Providence.
McKee was sworn in by Attorney General Peter Neronha using the McKee family Bible. His wife, Susan McKee, held the Bible. They were joined on the dais by their daughter, son and daughter-in-law.
The state's other general officers also were sworn in. State lawmakers were taking the oath of office Tuesday when the legislature convened.
Later this month, McKee is required to submit to lawmakers a proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. McKee said his goals are to strengthen the education system, raise incomes in every community and create a healthier state.