Joshua David Shapiro, 49, became the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s 48th Governor on Tuesday on the steps of the Capitol Complex.
Shapiro was sworn in by Debra Todd, chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, just after noon on Tuesday. He took the oath of office on three bibles held by his wife, Lori – each with personal and spiritual meaning to the family, including one from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
On an overcast day in the capital city, Shapiro began his comments by offering thanks to his family and nods to U.S. Senators Bob Casey Jr. and John Fetterman, former governors Tom Wolf, Tom Corbett, Mark Schweiker and Tom Ridge, his new lieutenant governor Austin Davis, as well as legislative leaders and legislators of both parties.
“Your presence formally celebrates the peaceful transfer of power,” said Shapiro of the presence of the former PA chief executives. “It also reminds us that while I am now entrusted with this awesome responsibility – it is just for a moment in the long history of our Commonwealth. I’ll now do my part to build on your work and to leave this place better off – the way that each of you did before me.”
He also tipped his cap to his predecessor.
“Thanks to (Gov. Tom Wolf’s) leadership we now find ourselves in the strongest financial shape in the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, allowing us to make critical investments for tomorrow.”
“Governor, you inherited the work of those who came before you, you served with honor, and you are leaving us in a better place than when you started. Thank you.”
The former Montgomery County commissioner and Pennsylvania Attorney General then turned his attention to the residents of the Commonwealth.
“But most of all, I want to thank you, the good people of Pennsylvania. You inspired me. You taught me important lessons. You invited me into your homes, your union halls, your places of worship and your community centers.”
“We walked our main streets together and I listened to you. I heard your stories. And those stories fuel my drive to serve. Your struggles give me purpose. Your smiles and your tears have filled my heart. Your problems have become my priorities. Your causes, my concerns.”
Shapiro made mention of many special guests, who he said inspired him and in return, he helped empower.
“People like Alexis (Miller), who was ripped off by a predatory student lender and whose story inspired a fight to take on that powerful entity and bring real relief to thousands of Pennsylvanians.
“Like Tim (Lewis), who did backbreaking work on our roadways for decades, just to have company executives steal his hard-earned benefits but who’s courage led to accountability and change.”
“Like the families I’ve met who lost loved ones to the opioid crisis. Your stories and your courage have stayed with me. And, they will motivate me each and every day as your Governor.”
“You, the good people of Pennsylvania, will always be my north star,” he continued.
“I’m mindful of the fact that you’ve shared those stories with me because you believe I can make a difference for you.”
He made an inspirational plea to Pennsylvanians, stating that their voices were heard during the gubernatorial campaign and would be a guiding light in the days ahead.
“From God’s Country to Gettysburg, I heard you when you said you want good schools for our kids, safe communities, and an economy that gives people a shot and lifts them up. You also sent a clear message – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – when you came together to resoundingly reject extremism. Together, hope defeated fear.”
Shapiro also had words for those who did not cast a ballot for him.
“And to those who didn’t cast their vote for me, I heard you too. And I will do my best every day to be a Governor for all Pennsylvanians.”
“We are all stewards of our democracy, and I’m mindful that as we celebrate the peaceful transition of power, we are proving once again that our democracy endures and the collective work to strengthen it continues.”
He spoke of real freedom and spending more resources on education, public safety, pathways to new job opportunities and making government a “productive force for good.”
“That allows us to tackle big challenges again and dream of brighter, more prosperous tomorrows. The real freedom that leaves its citizens with the confidence of knowing that the doors of opportunity will swing open for them if they push through. Where everyone gets a shot and no one is left behind.
“That is real freedom. That is our challenge. That is our calling. And, that is the next chapter in our Pennsylvania story that we start writing today – together.”