Inslee takes oath, faces challenges and criticism

VIDEO: Gov. Inslee delivers inaugural address as his third term begins

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Chief Justice Stephen Gonzalez conducted a crowd-free, COVID-19-safe swearing-in for Gov. Jay Inslee’s third term.

Outside the Capitol, the National Guard remained on duty to keep the public out. There was a lone protester at the fence.

“They’re not doing their job for us. They’re afraid of us. They’re afraid to come out and talk to us,” said Ricky Day of Pacific Beach.

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Among the biggest challenges include the slow distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Republican lawmakers criticized the Democratic governor.

“We knew it was effective for the last two months. So the governor again had at least two months to prepare. And so, for us to be this flat-footed is pretty inexcusable,” said Auburn Republican Drew Stokesbary.

Majority Democrats promised financial support.

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig of Spokane said, “You need more people. If you need more resources, we are going to be there. And we have some of this federal money to do that, but we can use state money as well. So we want to make sure they have the resources.”

The legislative chambers will be nearly empty and remain COVID-19-safe as lawmakers conduct most of their work virtually. Some want to curb Inslee’s emergency powers or at least discuss restrictions.

“The reason being that we’re reflecting on these proclamations is that we, as elected officials, walk through the grocery store with people, um, who, you know, couldn’t talk, talk with us, and they’re crying because they’re losing their home. They’re selling their cars. They’re having struggles feeding their children,” said Republican Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber of Republic.

But Democratic House Speaker Laurie Jenkins sees it differently. “I feel firmly that the governor’s use of his executive powers has saved thousands of lives in the state of Washington. I’m disinclined to want to alter those too much,” Jenkins said.

In his videotaped inaugural address, the governor offered his trademark optimism.

“Washington state is a resilient state. We know how to recover. And this is just not going to stop Washington state’s eternal march of progress,” he said.

Watch the full speech in the video below or find a transcript at this link:

RAW: Gov. Inslee delivers third inaugural address