Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin ran in part on shaking up the status quo in Richmond from an outsider’s perspective along with a promise to address kitchen table issues for Virginians. Now, Virginians expect him to live up to those promises that voters across Virginia flocked to the polls in record numbers to express their support for last month.
He is keeping his word so far on doing things differently as he is changing the routine of the governor’s inauguration. Instead of a formal ceremony on the night of the inauguration, Youngkin will be hosting an event with a musical performance. “Choosing boots over ball gowns,” the description of the event reads in the announcement from the transition committee.
Youngkin said this type of event is a reflection of the diverse range of support they received.
“Suzanne and I have continued to be so encouraged but also reassured by the vast support from Virginians from all parts of Virginia, from all walks of politics, and from all backgrounds,” the gov.-elect said in an interview with Virginia Scope Tuesday. “So we wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted to participate had a way to participate. Often times that Saturday night event which has been a ball where somebody had to buy a gown and wear a tuxedo just all of a sudden became something that folks couldn’t attend.”
The theme for his inauguration will be “Strengthen the Spirit of Virginia Together,” according to an announcement from Youngkin’s transition team Tuesday. “The theme for inauguration weekend celebrates Virginia’s spirit—one linked to a rich history, but an even more exciting future as Virginians come together to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” the gov.-elect and First Lady Suzanne Youngkin said in a prepared statement.
As for the kitchen table issues that helped propel Republicans to victory last month, the current governor seems to be trying to steal some of Youngkin’s talking points in the final days of his administration. On Monday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he will be proposing a 10% pay increase for teachers in his outgoing budget proposal. Then on Tuesday, he announced a proposal for a pay increase to law enforcement officers across Virginia. Both of these moves were key facets of Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign. Any proposals will ultimately need Youngkin’s signature during the next General Assembly session, however, so the moves from Northam are largely symbolic.
Youngkin said Tuesday that he believes it is a sign that Democrats received the message that voters sent last month in record numbers when they elected him and gave control of the House of Delegates to Republicans. “Virginians spoke very loudly and the mandate that Virginians gave us broadly is one that I think that everyone recognizes,” Youngkin said. “So I am not surprised by Governor Northam’s initiatives. We are going to go to work on day one.”
Day one has always been a key phrase for Youngkin, but his transition remains behind schedule as he originally promised to announce his education department appointees by Dec. 1. He has repeatedly cited a high volume of applicants that they want to properly vet before making a decision on who to hire as the reason for the delay. On Tuesday, he said over 150 people applied for the top few jobs in the Department of Education.
He has also noted multiple times that he has hired several teams in his career, but this is the most important one so he wants to take his time. “We are not quite ready,” Youngkin said of announcing his education department appointees. “We are pressing forward as quickly as we can because I know it is important but I also want to make sure we make a great decision.”
While he announced a long list of transition team members the day before Thanksgiving, we are now one week into December and Youngkin has not announced any administration appointments yet.
Youngkin provided no new information about the transition Tuesday, other than to say they are working hard to have a legislative agenda ready for the session that begins next month. “We are of course getting ready for the first legislative session and our day one game plan is incredibly important to get done,” Youngkin said. “I have been really encouraged by not only the leadership from the Republicans but also the ability to have bipartisan discussions around lowering taxes and making sure our schools are returning to a standard of excellence and well funded.”
The gov.-elect has also been spending time meeting with Virginians in the weeks since he won the race. He visited a basketball camp, spoke with a police department, bagged groceries, and held multiple rallies thanking supporters across the commonwealth.
“My primary objective has been to continue to engage with Virginians on the issues that are most important to them. The last thing I wanted to do was have a big gap between Nov. 2 and Jan 15 where the gov.-elect was nowhere to be seen,” Youngkin said Tuesday. “Virginians hired us — as I have said many times, we were granted a license to lead. The folks that have the ability to take that license away are everyday living their lives. So I am starting to serve now.”
Gov.-elect Youngkin will be sworn into office on Jan. 15.
*A full list and description of the inauguration events can be viewed here.
Listen to the full Virginia Scope interview with Governor-elect Youngkin below:
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