Gov. Susana Martinez being sworn into office this morning in the chamber of the New Mexico House of Representatives in Santa Fe. Photo by Sharon Stover
SANTA FE – The following is the text of Gov. Susana Martinez’s second inaugural address as prepared for delivery from the chamber of the New Mexico House of Representatives today:
My fellow citizens of New Mexico, I thank you. I am incredibly grateful and honored that you have once again given me the opportunity and the privilege to serve as your governor.
I understand and appreciate the important responsibilities that come with this office. I will tackle the challenges. I will not mark time. And I will continue to give you everything I’ve got.
Let me take a moment to recognize the First Gentleman of the State of New Mexico, my husband, Chuck Franco, as well as my brother Jake, my sister Lettie, and Carlo, our state’s first son.
We are fortunate to have many distinguished guests with us today, including Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez, Secretary of State Dianna Duran, and two-time winner, Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, and of course, our soon-to-be Speaker of the New Mexico State House, Don Tripp.
It is certainly the case that Republicans had a good night on Election Night. But it would be a mistake for us to believe we were elected because voters wanted Republican politicians in office. That’s not the message.
History is littered with failed politicians who believed that voters wanted one party over the other, when instead, it’s clear they wanted leaders who would put progress over politics. And it’s charting a new course of history we should be focused on.
We will be defined not by what happened on Election Night, but rather by what we do with the trust and responsibility granted to us by the voters.
What kind of history are we making for the children and grandchildren of New Mexico? What will they learn about what we did in office?
The greatest achievements in history were made by great leaders of both parties. And it is our duty to lead.
New Mexicans deserve leaders who put service above party. Leaders who choose to work across party lines not worrying about who gets credit when a reform works, but rather who will benefit from those reforms.
New Mexicans deserve optimistic leaders, leaders who believe in the best of New Mexico, leaders who believe – like I do – that tomorrow will always be better than today, that challenges can be overcome, that the things we lose sleep over tonight can be nothing more than remnants of a bad dream a year from now.
As governor, I know I don’t just represent some of the people – I represent all of the people. And I have visited every corner of this beautiful state – multiple times.
I drive a lot and it gives me the chance to meet more people, to talk to more New Mexicans.
I spend time wherever I go to listen. What do you care about? What is on your mind? How can I help?
Some people have asked, “Why do you go there? They don’t vote Republican.” But that’s not who I am and that’s not what I believe.
I believe we serve all New Mexicans regardless of the party they belong to, the size of their house, or the color of their skin.
As governor, I’ve learned a great deal about this beautiful state and about the most diverse hard-working people you’ll find anywhere in America.
Hopefully, over the last four years, New Mexicans have learned a thing or two about me as well. So when they ask, “Will the governor listen to my concerns? Will she fight for me? Will she keep her promises?” They will know the answer, absolutely yes.
I am very proud of what we have accomplished over the last four years. We’ve created a sense of optimism, pride, and opportunity.
But where do we go from here? We do have a choice. We do have a say. And there are two paths, two roads in front of us. One that’s more comfortable, that doesn’t require much of us and says we’ve done enough. Or one that requires courage and commitment, a road with ups and downs that can fundamentally alter and improve the course we are on forever.
Comfort or courage? What’s our choice?
My sincere hope is that we have the courage to seize this moment, the courage to choose reforms that are bigger, stronger, and ever-lasting, the courage to embrace change, the courage to say our kids deserve better and our families deserve better, the courage to prioritize the future of our children over special interests, the courage to reward hard work and success even if it means that not everyone gets a trophy, the courage to innovate, the courage to take risks, and the courage to tell every New Mexico child that their wildest dreams are within their reach. And then we must work hard enough to ensure that we didn’t mislead them.
Because it’s the great American truth – in this country, no matter your background or ethnicity, you can grow up to be anything you want to be.
That’s a message our kids need to hear – every child can make it here. That’s what separates our great country from others, the hope that we can achieve, the unshakeable belief that we can achieve.
Some will say the American Dream is dead, the fiction of a bygone era. My friends, America will prove them wrong again. And there is no greater calling than fighting to keep the American Dream alive for every little girl and little boy.
There is no area more deserving of our focus than ensuring every child receives a quality education. The greatest societies always put educating their children at the top of their priorities. New Mexico must be no different.
And we’re starting to turn the corner with some of our reforms, seeing good progress. Graduation rates are up, parents are more involved, and we’re closing the achievement gap.
But we can always do better. And our reforms are just beginning. To do better, we must be willing to listen to one another and hear each other out.
That’s why after the election, I met with a group of teachers and principals to listen to their concerns about reforms. We met for three hours one night listening to one another and searching to find common ground.
We must continue to measure every reform against one question – does it help our children learn? That’s what matters.
I will meet anyone halfway if we’re focused on the same goal of student achievement, but I will never compromise on lowering standards for our children.
I will never send a message to a child that they can’t succeed or that failure is OK. Nothing dashes dreams more quickly than destroying hope in a child. And I will never accept the argument that kids who can’t read should just be shuffled along, to struggle more and more as they get older, because intervening early and requiring them to read at grade level is uncomfortable for some adults.
We can, and will, have healthy debates, but we can’t shy away from high standards and we can’t tell the children of New Mexico that they can’t compete with any child anywhere in America and anywhere in the world.
I believe they can. And over the next four years, they will do just that.
We must also lead when it comes to improving our economy. For New Mexico to reach its full potential, we must have a strong and robust economy. It’s through that economy that we as a society, and a government, can keep our promise to our seniors and our commitments to our children. And most importantly, a strong economy will allow our children to find good-paying jobs here in New Mexico when they finish school.
There’s no question that New Mexico was hit hard by the Great Recession and federal budget cuts. Four years ago, we had a choice to make – we could have taken the easy road of raising taxes and increasing government spending for the short-term, a quick fix to get us through an election, or we could have chosen the road of reform. I am proud that we chose reform.
One of New Mexico’s greatest gifts is our diversity. It’s what sets us apart from other states. And we deserve an economy that’s just as diverse – not one that is totally reliant on federal spending.
We chose in a bipartisan manner to make New Mexico more competitive – to grow the private sector and help local, small businesses grow.
There were many naysayers who said New Mexico’s private sector could not compete with our neighboring states, that we would never be able to grow a robust economy. We are proving them wrong: technology jobs, manufacturing jobs, small businesses growing and adding employees, and companies moving here from other states and nations.
And to all the naysayers who pointed out how New Mexico was ranked last in the nation year after year, not only has New Mexico been ranked number one in export growth, just last month, we climbed all the way up to 15th in the nation in private sector job growth.
We’re making progress. But I’m not satisfied. We can, we will, and we must do better.
Our state’s financial house is in order and we must keep it that way.
We’re tougher on corruption now. The playing field is level. And we’re helping the most vulnerable by ensuring we have a strong safety net.
As we set out on this path together, let’s be mindful of why we’re doing this. It’s for future generations, our children and grandchildren. And our children aren’t Republicans or Democrats. They’re just kids who deserve the very best state and the very best future we can offer. And it is for those kids that we must commit ourselves to act boldly, to facing our challenges with courage.
Let’s not worry about tomorrow’s headlines, but about the legacy we leave those children, and let that be a legacy where every child can succeed in the greatest state in the greatest country on earth.
Like I told you four years ago, I cannot promise you perfection, nor can I promise that we will always agree on methods. But I promise that we will share the same goal of a just, prospering, and limitless New Mexico. And I promise that we will work together so that New Mexico is always a place where dreams are made real.
Let us be brave together my fellow New Mexicans and be mindful of the history we are creating – that history must be true to those we have been entrusted to serve. I am humbled by the privilege and ready to finish the job.
Thank you and God bless our great state.