Bill Walker sworn in as governor, tells Alaskans ‘You come first’
See above for the full 2014 Alaska Gubernatorial Inauguration
Alaska has a new leader, as Bill Walker was sworn in as the state’s governor Monday.
The swearing in ceremony for Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott was held at Centennial Hall in Juneau. With his wife, Donna, by his side, Walker was sworn in by Alaska Supreme Court Justice Daniel Winfree.
The former Valdez mayor used his family’s Bible for the ceremony.
An emotional speech from Walker outlined his Alaska roots, from the 1964 earthquake that devastated his father’s business to remembering the day Alaska became a state.
Walker admits the days ahead will be hard, saying that next year will be “lean times” for Alaskans, thanks to the falling price of oil.
“The key to every growing economy is low-cost energy,” said Walker. “Alaska is rich in resources. We don’t have a resource problem. We have a distribution problem. I am steadfastly committed to delivering natural gas to Alaskans and to the lucrative global markets.”
He also said his administration would begin work immediately to expand Medicaid to include what he says are 40,000 Alaskans without health insurance. Walker has appointed Valerie Davidson as the new state health commissioner, calling Davidson “the consummate expert” on Medicaid.
Shortly after Walker was sworn in as governor, his office also announced that Sam Cotten will serve as acting Fish and Game commissioner and Marty Rutherford will serve as a deputy Natural Resources commissioner.
Walker previously named his appointments for attorney general and commissioners of Revenue, Natural Resources and Public Safety. New appointments are subject to legislative approval.
Walker is Alaska’s 13th governor but the 11th person to serve as state governor. He succeeds Republican Sean Parnell.
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