RICHMOND, Va. — Striking a tone of bipartisanship and optimism, Virginia’s new Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, is pledging to “restore trust in government, and to restore power to the people” in his inaugural address Saturday in Richmond.
“My fellow Virginians, I come to this moment, and to this office, knowing we must bind the wounds of division. Restore trust. Find common cause for the common good. And strengthen the spirit of Virginia,” he said in his prepared remarks distributed to reporters before his speech.
The speech also emphasized that Saturday marked a peaceful and orderly transition of power.
“No matter who you voted for, I pledge to be your advocate, your voice, your governor,” he said, according to the prepared remarks.
Shortly before the ceremony began, Virginia’s former governors met with Youngkin and Northam inside the Capitol. Every living governor but Youngkin’s opponent, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, was in attendance. He tweeted that he and his wife were “quarantining due to a close COVID contact in the interest of health and safety.”
The Youngkins and Northams also participated in a cordial key-exchange ceremony. Northam offered Youngkin his well wishes.
Youngkin’s inaugural speech marked a weekend of pomp and circumstance in Richmond as Virginia’s newly elected Republican leaders were set to take office.
In addition to Youngkin, Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares and Lieutenant Gov.-elect Winsome Earle-Sears were to be sworn in Saturday afternoon during an outdoor ceremony in front of the historic state Capitol.
The moment will open a new chapter of governance in a state where Democrats spent the past two years in full control.
Youngkin, a former private equity executive and political newcomer, is scheduled to deliver remarks after being sworn in as the state’s 74th governor. He became the first Republican to win statewide office in Virginia since 2009 when he won over McAuliffe last November.
He defeated McAuliffe by mobilizing voters concerned about education and race while making small gains with suburban voters and other key groups to help his party rebound in a state long trending blue.
Miyares and Earle-Sears will both make history — the former as the first Latino to serve in the position and Earle-Sears as the first woman of color to serve in a statewide office.
A traditional inaugural parade will kick off after the ceremony. Participants will include members of the Virginia National Guard, Virginia university and high school students, NASA representatives and law enforcement officers, according to Youngkin’s transition team.
A celebration is planned for Saturday night that will feature a performance by the Zac Brown Band.
The first of Youngkin’s inaugural weekend events got underway Friday morning, when the governor-elect participated in a service event with local officials, helping landscape an area along the Richmond Slave Trail, a tribute to the critical role the city played in the domestic slave trade.
On Friday night, members of the General Assembly hosted a welcome reception at a downtown hotel ahead of a $10,000-a-ticket candlelit black tie reception and dinner held at a science museum.
A prayer breakfast was planned Saturday morning ahead of the inauguration, and the weekend was scheduled to wrap up Sunday with an open house at the Executive Mansion.