Michelle Lujan Grisham

Gubernatorial Inaugural Address - Jan. 1, 2019

Michelle Lujan Grisham
January 01, 2019— Santa Fe, New Mexico
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Gov. Lujan Grisham's address begins at 27:48 in the video.

This is not how it starts, but the inspiration and the energy in this room is exactly the stuff that New Mexico is made of, that will really make a difference. Right? This is who we are. Brave the storm, brave the weather, brave the cold – we are here rain or shine, snow.

Thank you all so very much. And you'll notice I didn't wear the right shoes. I had to climb up on a giant box, which we're going to stop doing from this day forward. [laughter] As governor, all the podiums in the state of New Mexico… [laughter] …will be lowered. And now you can see how the other half lives. [laughter and applause]

But I really do want to thank each and every one of you for being here. I want to especially thank my beautiful family for their unyielding love and support – Erin, Taylor, my brother Gregory, and of course, the first Manny. [applause]

While my mother was introduced today, she didn't quite make it – it's a lot of wonderful activity. But I do want to share with you that there's no question that I would not be here without my incredible mother and the role model that she has been. So I'm asking you to join me in thanking my mom. I'm sure she's watching this right now. [applause]

I want to also thank our brilliant new lieutenant governor, Howie Morales, and his entire family, for their eagerness to come along on this ride with us.

I want to thank Gov. Susana Martinez for her service to our state and her graciousness during this transition. Thank you. [applause]

And I know he was introduced earlier, but I want to give my personal thanks to Sen. Jeff Bingaman for serving as the transition chairman for all of us. Thank you. [applause]

I am also incredibly humbled to be in the presence of so many incredible leaders, who have chosen to join me on the stage today. Thank you to Sen. Tom Udall for being here. [applause] I want to thank him, he's right behind me – Congressman Ben Ray Lujan. [applause] I want to recognize Gov. Toney Anaya, Gov. Garrey Carruthers; our secretary of state, Maggie Toulouse Oliver [applause]; our attorney general, Hector Balderas [applause]; our new land commissioner, Stephanie Garcia Richard [applause]; our new state auditor, Brian Colon [applause]; our chief justice, Judith Nakamura – thank you for such a lovely introduction and welcoming remarks [applause]; and, of course, our distinguished Senate Majority Leader, Peter Wirth [applause], our distinguished House Speaker, Brian Egolf [applause].

But most importantly, I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. [applause]

My fellow New Mexicans:

Standing before you today is an honor and a privilege so far beyond what any one person can articulate. So I want to talk about something we all share, I think, in this moment.

There is a choice before us — all of us. We have all had high hopes before. I want to show you how this moment will be different. I want to show you how we can take prosperous expectations and that we can turn them into a prosperous reality. I want to show you that we can prioritize the miles of agreement that we share over the inches that sometimes separate us. I want you to believe, as I do, that our perseverance will triumph every single time over pessimism.

The choice we face today forces us to stand and deliver on our conviction that we can, now, build something better — together, and only together.

We have an obligation, now, to not only dream but be accountable to our aspirations.

And we have, right now, the power to decide what we will become.

Together, and beginning this moment, we can choose to dramatically broaden our understanding of what New Mexico can be; we can choose to comprehensively reimagine this state.

The status quo will not stand. [applause]

Because we – each and every one of us – we believe in a very different New Mexico.

And together we will find the courage to create the promise of that tomorrow for our children and their children. We will all have the core strength to stay the course and stand as one when our resolve is challenged.

We will go big. Really big. [applause] And we're going to do this together.

I have, in my life, found my strength in our numbers, in the people working alongside me. I have been driven by the chance to do the hard work and to do it well. I invite you to see it this way now.

I think we are all here today because we know the stories about how this state has failed so many of its children, how we have relinquished control of our economy, how our educators and first responders get lip service instead of a raise — and the truth is, that's just not who we are.

That might be the status quo, but we will not saddle another generation with the same-old. We can and will solve the problems we face — for a lifetime. [applause]

While we are not blind to the challenges, but we are not daunted by them. We can and will deliver. And the truth is, this has always been true.

I'm not going to stand here and talk about the bad statistics or bad management in the past.

This state has, in fact, suffered from a lack of investment, yes, but also truly a lack of imagination.

On the campaign trail, Howie and I saw how this is changing. Over the past two years, we saw, first-hand, a remarkable revolution taking place in every single corner of this state, a revolution of attitude. No matter where we traveled, no matter who we were speaking with, we saw an awakening. We saw the burning desire for something different, but also, now, the willingness to be a part of it. We met people who are excited about a radically different way of doing business, people who know courageous commitment is the way to tear out of the quicksand.

Whether it was educators, or students, or social workers, firefighters, police officers, small business-men and -women, folks who go to city council meetings or legislative hearings, or just someone who leads the conversation around the dinner table, we met, every single day, New Mexicans with the beginnings of a brand new vision.

The people in this room, in this city, and in this state are ready to reimagine what New Mexico can be, and they are willing to step into the arena and to make it a reality. [applause]

New Mexicans are ready and willing to do the work, to be a full and active part of total transformation.

I have seen a true New Mexican optimism. I have met New Mexicans who know, deep down, and are ready to scream out loud, that this is not the way it has to be, that I am ready to roll up my sleeves and build – by God – something better.

And now we choose to seize this opportunity — together, and only together.

We will create a New Mexico where we finally invest in our children [applause], because every single one of our kids deserves the very best and the best possible head start. Right? [applause]

We will create a New Mexico where workers, no matter their wage, are treated like human beings, and where workers who are paid the least are paid more starting now.

A New Mexico where students and young adults can find fulfilling, high-paying work.

Where students and young adults elsewhere are packing up the U-Haul and coming to New Mexico to find meaningful work right here. [applause]

We will re-imagine a state where we protect our children, our most vulnerable children, and we will stop those who would do them harm before they ever get the chance. [applause]

Where we create new industries and, for the first time ever, we control our economic destiny.

Where we recognize that it's not enough to just say that we believe in science, because we believe in science [applause] — but we have to be aggressive and we must act – every single one of us – to address the global warming crisis that will have an effect, right, on the world and within our state within our lifetime. [applause]

Where we recognize our environment, where we recognize that it is our legacy and in fact it is our greatest resource.

Where we hold up our educators as the foundation of our communities, and we pay them like it. [applause]

Where we hold up our police officers and our firefighters as the keystone of our neighborhoods, and we pay them like it. [applause]

Where we, right here in New Mexico, are the national leader for equal pay for women. [applause]

Where we are a national example in innovation in the improved delivery of quality, affordable health care. [applause]

Where we are the national example of what a clean energy revolution looks like. [applause]

Where we do not tolerate poverty for one more day – not one more day. [applause]

And where, right here in this state, we show the country and the world what it looks like when a state commits to doing the work to transform itself, from the ground up, without losing what we already have.

When I think about all that work and all that's possible, I find that I'm also thinking, like many of you are, about my own roots and about my family. And I'm thinking a lot about my late dad. Everybody knows him as Buddy Lujan. Now, my dad was a dentist. In fact, I'm looking at the front row and I can see he did all of your teeth. [laughter] That's not an exaggeration. He was one of the first dentists to bring public health services to most of northern New Mexico and other communities. They were often communities where people don't have access to the basic health care they needed, let alone dental care. He offered dental care to New Mexicans who were struggling every day to make ends meet, and he really focused on children with disabilities, who at that time had no other access to any healthcare, including oral health care services in most states, including this one. In fact, which many people, because we're native Santa Feans, probably remember that my father had a dental chair in our garage. I thought everyone had a dental chair in their garage. [laughter] He never turned anyone away from that chair. He went above and beyond for his patients, for his neighbors, for anyone who needed it.

And I still meet people today who tell me, Your Dad was there for me and I wish I could thank him again. Thank you. [applause]

And as is so true for so many New Mexicans, my dad was also this incredible man of faith. He never stopped believing in his state, in his community, in his family. He always believed the best about the state. And he left me – that was his legacy – with the same kind of attitude and warm, proud feelings about my home, about my community, about my state. And as we were preparing for this incredibly awesome moment and I have to do it without him, I had the opportunity to bring a little something of my father with me. He gave me his favorite pen. I never saw him write – I know my brother's here – a single thing with this pen, but he cherished this pen and he gave it to me right after my first elected office, which was the Bernalillo County Commission.

And he told me to take this beautiful pen – it's a fountain pen – and to make sure that I used it to sign all those important statements and resolutions and pieces of legislation, to write down all the hard work that I wanted to accomplish every single day. So I took it with me to Congress and I really wanted it with me here, in this moment, so when I was signing the paperwork, becoming the thirty-second governor of the great state of New Mexico [applause], I used this beautiful pen. And at the end of that, this incredible beautiful pen was lost. And we were busy this morning, thinking about looking through all the [clears throat] security footage at the Capitol, where I was sure we were going to see my brother taking that pen. [laughter] And all kidding aside, like any one of us, my feelings were hurt. It's okay – I got to use it in for moments that mattered. You carry the people you love and the things you do in your heart. And so no matter where this pen went, that would be fine.

But we started this morning with another tradition that is very important to my family and to my father, and we went to the Carmelite Monastery where we got a personal blessing by one of the sisters, Sister Bernadette. And as she was holding her hands on the screen and I was getting ready to put my hands on that screen for that blessing, I was reminiscing and so was she, about the character of my father, and I said, "You know, I carried him with me, and that's why it's so wonderful and lovely to start today. I brought his favorite pen that he gave to me, only I don't know what happened to it. And in that moment, Father Pat Conroy, who you met earlier in the invocation, said, "This pen?" [laughter and applause] And I knew unequivocally that my father was following me along on this entire journey [tearfully blows kiss to Father Conroy]. [applause]

And while you indulge me with that story, I want you also to think about some other incredible New Mexicans that I've had the great privilege of getting to know along the way.

I'm also thinking today about Annette. Annette's a single mom in Albuquerque, raising preschoolers. She's going back to school. She wants to make a better life for her entire family. Because of the way state benefits work today, she's often having to choose between buying food and paying for housing. Her extended family wraps around her, they step up and they help provide food security. But that's not the way it should work, and starting today, that's not the way it's going to work for any other New Mexican. [applause]

And I'm thinking about Chris, another single mom. She's a small business owner who doesn't qualify for child care through Children, Youth and Families Department, or any other of our departments that's intended to invest in these families and lift them up. She also has tremendous support, a system of family and friends, who help care for her children so she can keep her business afloat. But starting today, we are that community, and we're going to invest in every single single mom and family who needs us to lift them up because they should not have to fight so hard to succeed.

All of these are examples of the strength and resilience of our neighbors, who have always, not matter what the obstacles, had hope in their hearts, who operate from a place of love, who do everything they can –just like you – every single day to make this state a better place for the people around them.

And now, we're going to make a difference, because Annette, Chris, and every single New Mexican deserves a stable, productive, proactive, fair investment so that every single one of us has the equal chance to succeed and to create the kind of prosperous lives that our children are depending on. And in this moment, you are helping me create that reality for every single New Mexican, and I thank you. [applause]

And this journey means that we're going to keep doing these steps together, every single day, because this is a state where the safety net doesn't fail you. Instead, it lifts you up.

We're going to create that New Mexico. A state where every child, every family has everything they need in every moment in every single day to succeed. Because this moment demands it. This is a time for action, and we can make a real, positive difference in the lives of every single New Mexican.

But in order to enact this transformation, this reimagined New Mexico, we need both the right vision of our shared values and the right trajectory.

So on the campaign trail, I know you might've heard us talk about a moonshot — a moonshot for our state's public education. Well, there's only one way there. [applause]

When you're aiming for the starts and the moon, you've got to aim high – higher than the current governor. [applause] Aim high.

We will have pre-kindergarten for every three- and four-year old New Mexico child. [applause]

Aim high and we will have social workers, caregivers, comfort and safety in every home in this state where it is needed.

Aim high and we will make sure underpaid state workers and educators are underpaid no more, starting right now.

Aim high and there will be a great job for every New Mexican willing and able to work.

I've been in the arena most of my life. And I'm not afraid to stumble. But as long as we endeavor, every day, to work as hard as we can, to put everything we have into creating this better future, we cannot fail.

That I am standing here before you is living proof that hard work just works. [applause] I have never accepted the answer "no" – just ask Tom Udall about that, just ask my mom. I have never relented because the task might've seemed like a bit too much. And now, together, we will do the work. We will be tenacious.

We will not quit until we have delivered the investment our public schools, our teachers and our children deserve, and, quite frankly, have always deserved. We will not quit until we have truly revolutionized public education in New Mexico. We will install, in fact to make sure we succeed, an Early Childhood Education Department [applause]. And we will, all of us together, make the conscientious choice and pull a responsible pinch of additional money from our Permanent School Fund to give our children the right start they deserve; we're going to rebuild our school buildings and we will rebuild the morale of our educators and our students. [applause]

And yes, I know – it is an incredibly tall order, but I demand it and I know that you do, too. [applause]

And I know I keep reminding you, but this is the moment that we just hang on to each other, because we in fact are capable of achieving it.

There is no more time to lose. There is no more argument to be had, frankly, about whether we can afford it. The point is, we can't afford not to.

And just like you [applause] – thank you – and just like you, I reject the false choice of today's children or tomorrow's budget. [applause] All right – preaching to the choir! We must dramatically increase our Pre-K and educational investments today and we have to provide sustainable revenue for the long term. For the first time in years, we have a checkbook to go with our credit card, we can afford it, and we all know the return on these investments is in fact a generation of children and families transformed, a generation after that and a generation after that — a better future, built by us, together, starting now.

Setting aside that it's the smart thing to do, as my dad Buddy would say, it's the right thing to do. [applause] And we will not rest – I will not rest – until it is done.

We will finally, finally, be economically proactive. As world economies turn to clean energy, we will embrace our destiny as a global leader — and in the process we're going to put New Mexicans to work, right?

Our film industry can be the greatest and most lucrative state media business in the entire country. That's right. [applause] With Netflix in Albuquerque and moviemakers in California recognizing our world-class crew, our base and brilliantly talented homegrown writers, performers and filmmakers, we will take the shackles off and let it rip — and in the process we will put New Mexicans to work. And what does that mean? It means we're not just going to raise the cap, we're going to eliminate the cap, pay the backlog, and we're going to get back to work. We are sending a clear message today that we are open for business and we will double film and television production in coming years. [applause]

We will raise the minimum wage, taking a step toward an economy that works for everyone, not just the folks who sign the front of the paycheck. [applause]

We will buy New Mexican, so our state government isn't paying millions to out-of-state vendors for services offered by one of our neighbors in our own communities.

We will make a responsible investments in our homegrown businesses — again, we can afford it. [applause]

We will make organic economic growth possible by fixing our infrastructure, investing in broadband, better roads, airports and water systems that will make our rural economies sing. [applause]

And we will be good stewards of our environment. A methane mitigation rule will not only protect our health, it will deliver more money for the state and create more meaningful jobs. [applause] Whew!

A dramatic increase in our clean energy production insulates us from future oil busts and makes good on our promise to leave our great outdoors greater than we found them. [applause] That means we will produce 50% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030 and set the course for 80% ten years after that. [applause]

We can achieve this, and we will not relent until it is done.

We will never do things the right way again. I'm sorry – we WILL do things the right way again. [laughter] I'm just testing you to see if you're still awake after a 20-minute speech. It's harder than it looks up here. [laughter] But this is the enthusiasm that we need, and I hope that you're hearing that right from my heart, that this is how we get things done.

And it means that we have to take care of our state government. And we have to staff our departments with the personnel they need – diligent, hard-working, caring professionals [applause] who will be in every corner of the state and who will be the envy of every other state in the country. We will not fight for fighting's sake. We will be transparent in how we do our work and we will be accountable every day to you. [applause]

Political victories are not worth a whole lot on their own. Progress into the better day we all envision is a collaborative and everyday effort. And it doesn't happen without the unifying commitment of New Mexicans who truly believe this better future is not only possible but it's within our reach, especially if we are reaching for it together.

So we're not here to celebrate a political victory but to remind ourselves a victory is only as good as the work ethic of the victors. We're not here as members of a winning party but as New Mexicans with our sleeves rolled up.

When I think about the New Mexicans that I know, and the people we met during this campaign, the retirees, the entrepreneurs, the students, the mothers, the fathers, the dreamers, the believers and even sometimes the skeptics, I think: This is our time. This is the opportunity we share. It's never been greater because our collective will has never been stronger.

So I am asking you, one more time, to help me build from this, right now. Help me by setting aside pessimism, by holding up your best ideas about what we can become. Help me by committing to the process of doing things the right way again. Help me by aiming high, as high as you can.

It begins in your home, in your school district, in your community, whether your family has been here 12 generations or you moved here last week – we will do this together, and the result will be a national model for productive growth, smart and purposeful steps forward, a better New Mexico, a thriving New Mexico, made better because we did the work to build it side by side.

My highest aspiration is the opportunity to work as hard as I possibly can for you and with you every single day.

With unselfish discipline, with relentless focus, with our eyes up — and with your help, with your voices, with your faith, we will rise to this occasion. We will grow stronger every single day. The unlimited promise of this magnificent state is ours to achieve.

It is time for us to thrive. Viva Nuevo Mexico! Thank you. [cheers and applause]