By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter
During Monday’s inauguration ceremony at the Wyoming Capitol in Cheyenne, Gov. Mark Gordon laid out his vision for the next four years, expressing a desire for unity and teamwork among all Wyoming residents.
“Citizenship is not aligning with one ideology or another. It is a willingness to engage and respect each other,” Gordon said. “To get things done, we must reacquaint ourselves with the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. To listen as much as to advocate. Our nation was founded on dialogue more than dogma.”
A Call For Parity
With the state flush in pandemic-related federal money and revenue from a strong year in oil and gas, some important decisions will need to be made in this year’s Legislature on how to use it for the future.
These decisions will likely be met with strong opinions and beliefs.
Gordon said he wants the next four years built on responsive government, economic diversification, protecting Wyoming values and taking advantage of the opportunities that are available to the state.
“These values are enduring to Wyoming, and we can’t afford to lose that to the intemperance of heated rhetoric on social media or the inflammatory divisiveness of those selfishly seeking political gain,” he said.
Caught In An August Storm
Gordon started and ended his speech with a story of his family riding horses together to check out their summer pastures when he was an 11-year-old boy.
On this August day at his ranch west of Kaycee, a snowstorm unexpectedly moved in, making it hard to see as they tried to navigate the route home.
“The immediate lesson to me as a young boy was that the best course in the challenging times is to stay calm,” he said. “Use common sense. Have faith and not be tempted to turn too far to the left or to the right.
“It’s a lesson I applied during my first term as governor.”
COVID And Beyond
Gordon’s first term wasn’t lacking in challenges, punctuated with managing the state in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing aftermath.
“Oftentimes Mark would come home with the phone on his ear, and he’d stay there all night,” first lady Jennie Gordon said. “He’d wake up in the morning and say, ‘What can I do to make things better?’ and then go to bed every night and say, ‘Have I done enough?’”
Gordon received a handful of standing ovations on Monday, but perhaps none louder than the applause he received once sworn in by Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice Kate Fox, with whom he shared a chuckle after this oath was complete.
Gordon was joined by the first lady at his side when sworn in.
Gordon gave a special acknowledgement to his wife during his speech, first bringing tears from the eyes of State Auditor Kristi Racines and then Jennie Gordon herself.
“As first lady, you made us aware of how important it is that Wyoming’s less fortunate have more influence,” the governor said to another standing ovation from the nearly 1,000 in attendance in the Capitol Rotunda. “Your commitment to ending food insecurity in Wyoming has made such a difference for so many in the state.”
Gordon said he never envisioned or desired to be governor while growing up.
“The thing about Wyoming is that no matter who you are or where you come from, you’ll have a better chance to meet, influence and even become a leader of the state than anywhere else,” he said. “Ours is truly a citizen government and citizens make a difference in this state.”
Pomp And Circumstance
The inauguration events started with a morning prayer ceremony at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
All five of the Wyoming’s top elected officials took communion. Gordon and Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder came up first, later followed by State Treasurer Curt Meier, Racines and then Secretary of State Chuck Gray, with his father at his side.
The Gordons spiritul leader from their hometown of Kaycee, Carole Buckingham, spoke during the prayer and twice at the swearing in ceremony.
During the prayer, she issued a homily where she mentioned the need for more civility in public discourse.
“We seem to be tearing everyone down,” Buckingham said. “As humans, we’re very good at picking against each other.
“It takes all to work the garden, faith and unity.”
A Cowboy State Procession
All five electees left the church together and hopped in a purple horse-drawn wagon provided by Jackson Fork Ranch.
Sitting up front was Gordon, joined by the first lady and a grandchild.
The wagon made its way down Carey Avenue before finishing its trip at the State Capitol.
After the swearing in, a public reception was held at the Capitol, where the officials chatted with constituents.
Around a dozen state legislators attended the swearing in ceremony as did former Govs. Jim Geringer and Dave Freudenthal.
Gordon acknowledged U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis and outgoing U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, but gave a special endorsement to U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, who was not in attendance.
“He’s been a strong and steady hand in helping guide our nation and a powerful focus for individual freedoms and rights as well as Wyoming’s values and interests,” Gordon said, asking the audience to give the senator an applause, which they did.