Tony Evers was officially inaugurated as the 46th governor of Wisconsin today.
He takes over after Gov. Scott Walker’s eight years in office. And while Democrats were able to make gains in statewide seats, they still face a Legislature under heavy Republican control.
Evers stressed in his speech today that he was looking forward to working across party lines in his new position.
“We cannot fix these problems unless people come before politics,” Evers said.
That echoes the tone he took during much of his campaign, where he was largely seen as a unifying candidate. Evers worked as the head of the Department of Public Instruction under Walker, and worked together with the former governor to craft the K-12 budget.
But as governor, Evers faces a wide partisan divide. Republican lawmakers passed a series of bills limiting some of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general’s powers last month.
Newly elected Attorney General Josh Kaul addressed those bills during his speech after he was sworn in today.
“Last month, the powers of two of our constitutional offices were diminish after the election for those offices had been held,” Kaul said. “That action, unprecedented in Wisconsin, and designed to hinder our ability to do the jobs we were elected to do, will have an impact.”
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes made history today as the first African American in the seat in Wisconsin. He’s only the second black person to hold statewide office in the Badger State.
“In a state still with extreme racial imbalance, we seek to not only change what is possible, but to change what’s expected,” Barnes said.
Evers called on elected officials to fully fund every level of school, including all day pre-K. He said he would prioritize access to healthcare and transportation funding over the next four years.
“May we dare to transcend divisiveness and party lines,” Evers said. “May we have the courage in our conscious and may we be willing to do what’s best for the next generation rather than the next election.”
New state senators and representatives were also sworn in today. In the Madison area, newly elected Representative Shelia Stubbs will take over the west side 77th’s assembly district from former Representative Terese Berceau, who didn’t run for reelection. Stubbs becomes the first black person to represent the district.