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Virginia: Under New Management

In accordance with the Constitution of Virginia, that requires an inauguration be held on the Saturday after the second Wednesday in January following an election, the Virginia General Assembly held said ceremony at noon today.

Shortly before noon on January 15, 2022, Gov.-elect Youngkin and his wife met with outgoing Gov. Northam and his wife in the Old Senate Chamber of the Virginia Capitol which was designed by Thomas Jefferson. Under the watchful eyes of portraits of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, the four exchanged pleasantries and then conducted the  traditional act where Northam handed over the keys to the Governor’s Mansion to Youngkin.

Built in 1813 on the Capitol Grounds just a stone’s throw from the state Capitol, the Mansion is the oldest governor’s residence in the country still used for its original purpose.

With bleachers installed outside the Capitol to hold the capacity crowd of some 6,500, the swearing-in ceremony took place on a brisk day in the 30’s but under a sunny sky. Opening actions included a call to order, invocation, and singing of the national anthem. The first to be sworn in was the new Attorney General, Jason Miyares. Next came Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears, followed by Governor Glenn Youngkin.

Following Youngkin taking the oath of office at 12:30, he delivered his inaugural address. In it he declared that “Virginia is open for business” and expressed his optimism that all Virginians can pull together to make a better Commonwealth.

Today’s ceremony was one for the history books, as it saw the most diverse leadership team take the helm of Virginia leadership. Sears is the first woman to hold the office of Lieutenant Governor in the Old Dominion. Having immigrated with her family from her native Jamaica to the US at the age of six, she is an embodiment of the opportunity that America offers. As a young adult she served in the US Marine Corps and Sears is now the second-highest officeholder in the state’s executive branch and thus wields a tie-breaking vote in the closely-divided Virginia Senate.

Winsome Sears took the oath of office to become VA Lt. Governor on Jan. 15, 2022. She is with her husband and two daughters. She lost one daughter and two grandchildren to an automobile accident.

Jason Miyares is a pioneer as Virginia’s first Latino Attorney General. His mother escaped communism in Cuba to seek a free and better life in the US. Raising eyebrows and underlying his commitment to change, Miyares recently announced the dismissal of 30 employees of the Attorney General’s office who had been serving under outgoing Attorney General Mark Herring (D).

The three new officeholders, all Republicans, have four-year terms.

Correction: The original story posted Jan. 15 incorrectly identified the key exchange as having taken place inside the Governor’s Mansion.

–Scott Dreyer

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