Riley sworn in

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 20, 2003

Riley looks to the spirit of Alabama

MONTGOMERY – Asking the packed Dexter Avenue crowd for patience and prayers, Ashland businessman Bob Riley took his place as Alabama’s 57th governor.

During his inauguration address, Riley sought the remedy to the state’s educational and budget woes in the &uot;spirit of Alabama,&uot; – urging lawmakers and voters to put aside party politics and work together.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

&uot;I believe with all my heart that there is no challenge too great for us to overcome, but only if the people of Alabama put aside politics, race, religion or any barrier that stands between us and our goals,&uot; Riley said. &uot;Let us make a clear and decisive break from the past, once and for all, putting aside our differences and coming together as Alabamians united for a common cause.&uot;

During his address, the 58-year-old former congressman chose to focus on what he considered to be the more positive aspects and accomplishments of the state, keeping away from the negativity that consumed Riley’s race against incumbent Don Siegelman.

&uot;Our education system is not the world-class system our children deserve,&uot; he said. &uot;Our economy is showing signs of weakness and a lot of people are disillusioned and are wondering if they could lose their job. We are facing a financial crisis in state government the magnitude of which we have not witnessed since the Great Depression and our tax system continues to unfairly prey on the poorest among us.&uot;

Riley said change would not come easy for the state, which had deteriorated from years of insufficient leadership.

&uot;I need your patience for we have a long and tough road ahead,&uot; Riley said. &uot;Our problems did not grow overnight, but have grown through seasons of neglect. They will not be solved by temporary fixes or patchwork solutions, but through fundamental change and reform.&uot;

Sworn in by controversial Chief Justice Roy Moore, the event drew a large crowd that flooded the Dexter Avenue location.

Huntsville residents J. V. and Jeanette Balch said Riley’s words gave them confidence that this administration would be a positive step for Alabama.

&uot;I’m very optimistic about what they’re going to do for Alabama,&uot; J. V. Balch said. &uot;I think he’s going to do good for the state.&uot;

Riley’s oath marks the third gubernatorial inauguration for the Balchs. Jeanette Balch said the new governor’s appeal for governmental cooperation is a step in the right direction.

&uot;I especially liked what the governor had to say about everyone working together,&uot; Jeanette Balch said. &uot;I think that’s very important if you’re going to accomplish things.&uot;