MONTPELIER — The transition to Vermont’s new state government for the next two years was completed Thursday as Republican Gov. Phil Scott was sworn into office along with the state’s additional statewide officers.
The State House on Thursday was filled to capacity for the inaugural ceremonies. It was also swarming with police and uniformed military personnel — one of the few days each legislative session where security is so visible.
Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, a Progressive and Democrat, was sworn in Thursday morning in the Senate chamber. In his brief remarks he urged the Senators seated before him to consult with those closest to them as they conduct their business.
“As we reflect on policy we look to our families, our elders’ experiences and our children’s creativity and goals. In this way, we are reflections of all Vermonters,” he said.
And while the country enters an uncertain time at the federal level, Vermont should continue to lead as it has in the past, Zuckerman said.
“By respecting and valuing the experience and expertise each of us brings we can be a beacon for the country,” said Zuckerman. “We can be one example of political civility, of community building rather than dividing.”
Zuckerman then presided over a joint assemble of the House and Senate in the House chamber. Former governor’s Madeleine Kunin, Howard Dean, James Douglas and Peter Shumlin were seated in the well of the House for the proceedings. So were the five members of Vermont’s Supreme Court along with other dignitaries and Scott’s mother, wife and two daughters.
After taking his own oath of office, Scott swore in Treasurer Beth Pearce, Secretary of State Jim Condos, Auditor of Accounts Doug Hoffer and Attorney General T.J. Donovan. Donovan, aside from Zuckerman who previously served as a senator from Chittenden County, is the state’s only new constitutional officer.
Shumlin, who did not seek re-election, became a former governor when Scott was sworn in. After the inaugural ceremonies he departed the House Chamber with his wife, Katie Hunt, and descended the stairs to the lobby of the State House where his staff and some of his cabinet were waiting.
Shumlin then strode through a side door of the State House, hugged and bid farewell to his staff, and drove off. He now plans to reside in Westminster as a private citizen.
Scott, meanwhile, retired to the governor’s ceremonial office in the State House, where he greeted a long line of well-wishers. He then took part in a ceremony to retrieve the American flag that once draped his father’s casket from in front of the State House. A Vermont State Police color guard, accompanied by a bugler, raised it Thursday morning to fly during Scott’s inauguration. Scott’s father, Howard Scott, was a World War II veteran who died from injuries he sustained in the war when Scott was 11.
Scott also signed his first executive order later Thursday afternoon that calls on state departments and agencies to focus on strengthening the economy, making the state more affordable and protecting the state’s most vulnerable residents.