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W.Va. Gov. Justice ushers in new term

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 9:53 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice took part in a ceremonial swearing-in Friday in front of a limited audience at the West Virginia Capitol.

The 2021 West Virginia Gubernatorial and Constitutional Officer Inauguration Ceremony included the ceremonial swearing in of Governor Jim Justice, Secretary of State Mac Warner, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, State Treasurer Riley Moore, State Auditor John B. McCuskey, and Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt, along with Justice Tim Armstead, Justice John Hutchison, and Justice William Wooten of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. All Oaths of Office were administered by Chief Justice Evan Jenkins.

Due to COVID-19 and security protocols, attendance was limited to dignitaries, families of those being sworn in, members of the media and other invited guests.

2021 West Virginia Gubernatorial and Constitutional Officer Inauguration Ceremony will include...
2021 West Virginia Gubernatorial and Constitutional Officer Inauguration Ceremony will include the ceremonial swearing in of the Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, State Auditor, Commissioner of Agriculture and Supreme Court Justices. All of those positions were formally sworn in earlier this week, in accordance with the state constitution.

After taking his ceremonial oath of office, Gov. Justice gave his inaugural address.

Gov. Justice takes a ceremonial oath of office Friday on the steps of the West Virginia Capitol.
Gov. Justice takes a ceremonial oath of office Friday on the steps of the West Virginia Capitol.

Gov. Justice began by thanking his family and congratulated all of West Virginians elected officials.

Gov. Justice also thanked former President Donald Trump and congratulated President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“We should always respect the presidency,” said Gov. Justice. “I want to congratulated our new President. President Biden and his great Vice President. Vice President Harris. And I want them to know, they are always welcome in West Virginia. And we will break our necks to absolutely have the same relationship with them we had with President Trump.”

During his address, Gov. Justice lead the crowd in a moment of silence in honor of the late Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance, Dennis Davis.

Gov. Justice brought the same props to his second inauguration as he did to his first in 2017, an axe and tackle box. He says he purchased the items from a woman along the road selling what she could to get by.

Gov. Jim Justice uses an axe and tackle box as props during inaugural address Friday, Jan. 22.
Gov. Jim Justice uses an axe and tackle box as props during inaugural address Friday, Jan. 22.

“She was standing there and she had about nine items there, fishing poles, this axe, this tackle box, some washed coveralls. I stopped and jumped out of the car and she looked right at me and said you’ll never know how bad I’m hurting. I gave her $100 for this axe and $100 for this tackle box and I really feel badly about it to this day because I should have given her every dime that I had on me,” said Gov. Justice.

Gov. Justice says he will never forget the encounter. He told WSAZ.com this week that he carries the tackle box and axe around with him everywhere he goes to remind him of those in West Virginia who are struggling. He says it reminds him to dream and fight for a better tomorrow.

Friday, Gov. Justice touted his administration’s successes.

“When we walked in the door, we had a dilemma beyond belief. We absolutely built surpluses and we made education our centerpiece,” said Gov. Justice. “We built all kinds of new roads and repaired the old roads. We created an easy pass on the turnpike, thank God.”

Gov. Justice credited the campaign ‘Almost Heaven” for an ‘explosion’ in tourism and mentioned the future Hyperloop Certification Center.

Gov. Justice described the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic as a ‘cannonball to the stomach” but says the state ‘stepped up’ and set an example for the nation.

“We did it. We did it,” said Gov. Justice. “We pulled off a surplus in the COVID year. That was impossible to do. We did it.”

When speaking about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the state, Gov. Justice said his administration knew they ‘could not leave vaccines on the shelf.’

“When the vaccines came, what did West Virginia again do? We stepped up and got them into people’s arms,” said Gov. Justice.

Gov. Justice’s COVID-19 pandemic leadership team also spoke at Friday’s ceremony. The team recognized first responders, front-line workers and essential workers for all the work they have done over the past year.

“A lot of the time, they are the ones who are in the hospitals holding the hands of our loved ones when they take their final breath. We want to take the time to recognize them,” said W.Va. State Health Officer, Dr. Ayne Amjad

“We see them. We hear them. We love them. Sometimes we can’t see their smiling faces across the masks but we see their eyes, their smiling eyes, their tired eyes.”

W.Va. State Health Officer, Dr Ayne Amjad

Attendees also included representatives from the U.S. Senate including Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, U.S. House of Representatives including Rep. David McKinley and Rep. Carol Miller, leaders and members of the West Virginia State Senate, leaders and members of the West Virginia House of Delegates, Governor’s Office staff, Executive Branch Cabinet Secretaries and department leaders, the West Virginia State Board of Education, and other honored guests.

In accordance with the most recent guidelines and best practices recommended by health professionals regarding COVID-19, all event attendees were required to properly wear a face covering and maintain adequate social distancing.

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