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..
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.