Republican Glenn Youngkin was sworn in today as the 73rd governor of Virginia, joined by incoming lieutenant governor Winsome Sears and incoming attorney general Jason Miyares, both Republicans. Youngkin defeated Democratic former governor Terry McAuliffe by about two points last November, a major upset.
Youngkin’s inaugural address hit all the right notes. It was primarily unifying, focusing on the history of Virginia, lamenting the suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and praising Virginians for their heroism. He also emphasized that Virginia just elected “the most diverse leadership in commonwealth history, sending a message that Virginia is big enough for the hopes and dreams of a diverse people.”
Youngkin affirmed that the “spirit of Virginia is not about government deciding for us what is best for us” and affirmed the goodness of the Founding, calling America “the most exceptional nation the world has ever known . . . a country birthed on the fundamental notion of freedom.”
He didn’t shy away from hitting several policy issues that distinguished his incoming administration from the policies of the previous governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, and from McAuliffe’s campaign promises.
“We know that when our children don’t go to school it harms their learning and development, so let me be clear: We must keep our children in school five days a week,” he said. He also emphasized an issue that he capitalized on in the close of the campaign: parents’ rights.
“Parents should have a say in what is taught in school, because in Virginia, parents have a fundamental right to make decisions with regards to their child’s upbringing, education and care,” he said. “To parents I say we respect you. And we will empower you in the education of your children.”
Youngkin pledged to address the rising cost of living, promising to suspend for a year the tax increase on gas and eliminate the grocery tax altogether, as well as “double the standard deduction on income taxes, rein in skyrocketing property taxes, provide the largest tax rebate in Virginia’s history, and cut taxes on our military veterans’ retirement benefits.” His administration’s goal is to create 400,000 jobs and 10,000 new startups during his time in office.
He also promised to protect qualified immunity and “fully fund” law enforcement, including higher salaries and better training and equipment, as well as invest in community-policing programs. “Like so many, I’m troubled by the recent attacks on our police,” Youngkin said. “The vast, vast majority of these heroes perform an incredibly challenging and dangerous job with extraordinary professionalism.”
As a Virginia resident, I was overjoyed to see Youngkin defeat McAuliffe, and I’m encouraged by the tenor he took in his remarks today.