By JESSE BEDAYN
DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis vowed to work toward housing affordability, transition the state completely to renewable energy by 2040 and tackle high crime rates in an inauguration speech delivered on the windswept steps of the state Capitol on Tuesday.
Polis, a Democrat who in 2019 became the first openly gay man elected governor in the U.S., moves into his second term after handily beating his Republican challenger alongside a blue wave in Colorado that increased Democrats majorities in both state legislative chambers.
While the governor reaffirmed his message to make Colorado safe for families, Polis notably omitted specific mention of gun control — a topic that has become a priority for Democrats after a gunman killed five people in an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs.
As a governor and former U.S. congressman who leans centrist, Polis pledged to work across the aisle, consider good ideas from both parties, and oppose government encroachment on Coloradan’s freedoms and way of life.
“We were heartened to hear the Governor commit to creating real solutions across party lines,” said Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen in a statement, adding that the two sides must come together around “solutions that acknowledge human behavior and market realities.”
In Colorado, Polis’s moderate bent might be the only check against a more progressive, Democratic majority.
In a tweet, GOP House Minority Leader Rep. Mike Lynch congratulated Polis but added: “we challenge you to defend the freedom/rights of ALL Coloradans.” In a previous speech on the House floor, Lynch had asked that Colorado’s conservative residents not be forgotten as Democrats tightened their grip on state government.
In the ceremony, Polis was introduced by bagpipes, two gay men’s choirs, a prayer from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe chairman, and ceremonial cannon fire. He was then sworn in aside his husband, first gentleman Marlon Reis, before the ceremony was capped by words from a rabbi. F-16 fighter jets then flew over the capitol.
After the 2022 election, Polis is now joined by two other LGBTQ governors, Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Tina Kotek of Oregon.
Polis holds broad popularity, having won nearly 60% of the vote in November in a state that was once inarguably purple. His appeal has raised questions of a future presidential run, questions he’s demurred from but hasn’t ruled out.
“It’s with great gratitude, love for Colorado, that I accept the responsibility of leading our incredible, amazing state, for the next four years,” said Polis, while sporting a tie of Colorado flags.
Jesse Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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