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Alabama Gov. Bob Riley delivers his inaugural address at the Capitol in Montgomery. Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., Agriculture Commission-er Ron Sparks and Attorney General Troy King also were sworn in Monday.
AP photo by Rob Carr
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley delivers his inaugural address at the Capitol in Montgomery. Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., Agriculture Commission-er Ron Sparks and Attorney General Troy King also were sworn in Monday.

Riley's 2nd act
Governor begins new term, urges Alabamians to believe in bright future

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Republican Gov. Bob Riley, sworn in Monday for a second term, said the state is experiencing a new day economically and educationally, and it will get even brighter if Alabamians address their problems with courage.

"I believe we do have the courage to squarely confront any challenge, put aside politics and do what's right. I believe we have the determination to provide educational excellence at every level so our children can compete and win the jobs of the future," Riley told several thousand people attending his inauguration.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, right, is sworn in for his second term by his son, Rob, a Birmingham attorney. Also present for the swearing-in ceremony are daughter Krisalyn Crier, wife Patsy and daughter Minda Campbell.
AP photo by Kevin Glackmeyer
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, right, is sworn in for his second term by his son, Rob, a Birmingham attorney. Also present for the swearing-in ceremony are daughter Krisalyn Crier, wife Patsy and daughter Minda Campbell.
Riley's swearing-in ceremony occurred on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and it took place a few feet from where King ended the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march in 1965. Riley also stood a few feet from where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederacy in 1861.

With the inaugural theme "Believe in Alabama," Riley said Alabamians should be mindful of the state's history, but shouldn't be limited by it.

"It is our foundation, not our ceiling," he said.

Several other state officials took their oaths of office during the ceremony in front of the Capitol, including Democratic Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., Republican Attorney General Troy King, and Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks.

The event had a touch of presidential politics, with retired Gen. Wesley Clark swearing in Sparks and Arizona Sen. John McCain attending as a guest of Riley and King.

McCain's presence sparked speculation that he might be looking at Riley as a running mate. When asked about it, McCain heaped praise on Riley, but said he won't think about a running mate until he officially enters the presidential race.

"It's premature for me to say anything other than he has national potential," McCain said.

Riley's inauguration resembled past inaugurations in its style, but not in its weather. The temperature was in the low 70s, allowing spectators to leave their overcoats and gloves at home.

Riley, a 62-year-old former congressman and businessman from Ashland, began his second term in a much different position from his first. In 2003, the state was in an economic slump and faced its biggest budget deficit since the Great Depression. For that inauguration, Riley chose the theme "Spirit of Alabama" and called on Alabamians to use the state's unique spirit to address the problems Alabama faced.

Four years later, the state is enjoying record low unemployment and record high state budgets. Alabama has finished atop several industrial development rankings. And low-income Alabamians just received the state's first income tax cut ever.

"Most assuredly, these are remarkable days. The most remarkable our state has ever known. Yet, these days are only a glimmer of the greatness yet to come," Riley said.

Riley did not recount his "Plan 2010" campaign platform, such as a second income tax cut, merit pay for teachers, and at least eight Advanced Placement classes in every high school. He also did not mention his failure last week to organize the state Senate around his allies.

But he did acknowledge Democratic legislative leaders in attendance and thanked them for their commitment to give his proposals "a full and fair hearing before the Legislature."

Many people who attended the inauguration said they were impressed by how Alabama's 52nd governor spent his first four years and they look forward to four more.

"I really believe Riley is the best governor Alabama has had for education," said Bill Smith of Birmingham, chairman of Royal Cup Coffee and head of the A Plus school improvement group.

Smith wore a tie adorned with school buses — the same tie he's worn to the last three inaugurations.

Willie J. Smith, a retired paper mill employee from Montgomery, was attending his first inauguration.

"I was interested in history being made today, and I think we've got a governor who's going to do us well," Willie Smith said.

After the swearing-in ceremony, marching bands and floats from throughout the state paraded in front of the Capitol, and then Riley headed to Birmingham for an inaugural ball that wrapped up four days of festivities.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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