"While an inaugural address normally lays out with the next four years will look like, this last year has made crystal clear that none of us knows what the future holds," said Governor John Carney Tuesday.
On January 19, 2021, Carney and Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long were sworn in for their second term as Delaware's leadership. In a socially distanced ceremony, the pair took their respective oaths of office and then, in a sign of the ongoing times, appeared in pre-produced video addressing the public instead of addressing a live crowd.
"Regardless of what lies ahead, I promise to continue working hard every single day to support the causes you care about, to fight for what's important to you, and to make life better for every single Delaware," Carney said. "Thank you for the privilege of serving as your governor."
In a delivery that touched on a sweeping number of topics, Carney acknowledged the difficulties of the previous year, but said Delaware was in a better position than most to build back from the decimation of the pandemic and continue moving forward.
"This year has been an incredible balancing act. We've tried to protect public health, while protecting our economy. Preparing for the next year--and the next four years--will require this same balancing act. We'll continue to deal with the crisis at hand, but we will also plan for the future. We will move forward with optimism and hope," he said. "2021 is a year of hope and optimism. It won't be easy. There's a lot of work ahead. But I'm confident that Delaware will come out of this current crisis stronger than ever. Four years ago, I promised to get our fiscal house in order. We kept that promise. As a result, unlike so many states around the country, Delaware is not facing a budget challenge this year. That means we're well-positioned to rebuild."
Carney also said he knows there's unfinished work left over from prior to the pandemic settling in, and he's prepared to continue working to complete those unfinished tasks.
"We made promises last year before the pandemic hit, and I intend to make good on them," the governor said. "We will create jobs by investing in the largest infrastructure program in our state's history. We will make sure every Delaware family has clean drinking water. We will build a new school on the East Side of Wilmington--It'll be the first new school in Delaware's largest city in more than a generation. We'll make historic investments in public schools statewide, focus on the students who need our help the most. We'll continue strengthening our economy, and we'll help those businesses recover that have been hit hard by the pandemic."
While facing challenges presented by COVID-19, Hall-Long said it also brought out the best in the First State's citizens, and that's what gives her optimism moving into a new year, and a new term.
"We will face the challenges that confront us by working together to build a safer, healthier and stronger Delaware," she said. "The COVID-19 pandemic has hit us hard, touching the lives of every single Delawarean. We saw and felt the grief created with the death of our loved ones and the suffering endured through the loss of jobs, the hurt that was felt by our businesses, and especially our small businesses, but we also saw communities rallying around one another. We saw people act with kindness and compassion for one another. People from all over reached out to help their neighbors."
Both also identified the marquee Black Lives Matter movement as a point from which to build off a more equitable and fair society.
"Of all the lessons this past year has taught us, perhaps the most important had nothing to do with the pandemic," Carney said. "The George Floyd protests here in Wilmington and Dover and across our country, showed us that we cannot continue to ignore the injustices faced by our brothers and sisters of color. We cannot return to the old normal...We need to build back better, and we will."
Regardless of what progress will look like, he said his ultimate goal will be ensuring every Delawarean can achieve their best circumstances possible.
"My job as governor is to make sure Delaware comes out on top in a world that's more connected and more competitive than ever," Carney said. "And to make sure all Delawareans get a fair shot to succeed."