- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 13, 2002

RICHMOND Gov. Mark R. Warner was sworn in yesterday as Virginia's 69th governor and the first Democrat to reside in the executive mansion in eight years. His first speech as the state's top elected official called for a "little revolution" and promised Virginians an inclusive administration, especially in grappling with the commonwealth's multibillion-dollar budget deficit.
"My fellow Virginians, it is time once again for a little revolution a revolution based not upon a desire to separate or tear apart but upon the need to unite and come together," Mr. Warner, 47, said in his inaugural address after the traditional 19-gun salute for governors.
"And, because in any revolution there must be a first shot fired, let us begin by changing the way we do business in Richmond," he said.
Mr. Warner and the Republican-controlled General Assembly face a $1.3 billion shortfall in the current budget and a $2 billion hole in the 2003-2004 biennial budget. He has also warned the state could face a $5 billion shortfall through 2005-2006.
He stopped toward the end of the nearly 20-minute speech to shake hands with the two legislative leaders whose support he will need in the next four years Senate President John H. Chichester, Fredericksburg Republican, and House of Delegates Speaker S. Vance Wilkins Jr., Amherst Republican.
In his speech yesterday, Mr. Warner said his administration would "rebuild the financial structure of state government, with openness, accountability, vision and plain old straight talk." He is expected to offer more details on his plan for the state budget tomorrow night in his State of the Commonwealth speech.
The new governor also vowed to improve public education and transportation and to provide more opportunities for rural communities to be connected with computers and information technology.
A multimillionaire now in his first elected office, Mr. Warner also took a swipe at departing Gov. James S. Gilmore III, criticizing his Republican predecessor for his budget standoff with the Republican-led legislature last year.
"We have even failed to reach consensus on the budget, and our citizens have suffered the inevitable consequences," Mr. Warner said from the steps of the State Capitol.
While shaking hands with departing guests joining him on the south portico of the Capitol, Mr. Warner noticeably avoided shaking Mr. Gilmore's hand, even reaching around him to bid adieu to others.
Also in attendance were other former governors, House speakers, members of Congress and other invited guests including Washington Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith. About 5,000 persons attended the inauguration and the parade that followed.
Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico of the Supreme Court of Virginia swore in Mr. Warner, who placed his left hand on the family Bible held by his wife, Lisa Collis, as their three young daughters looked on.
Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, also a Democrat, was sworn in by his wife, Anne B. Holton, a juvenile and domestic relations judge in Richmond. Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican, was sworn in by Glen M. Williams, a senior judge in U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia.
Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, said "job one" for Gov. Warner will have to be getting Virginia's fiscal house in order. He complimented the state's new chief executive for commenting on the important role of the military in his speech.
In 1996, the two Warners, who are not related, fought a campaign for John Warner's Senate seat, a bid the new governor lost.
Delegate J. Chapman Petersen, Fairfax Democrat, said even though Gov. Warner may "win some and lose some" with the legislature, it is important to maintain the bipartisan tone. House Transportation Committee Chairman Delegate John A. "Jack" Rollison III, Prince William Republican, said the legislature will have to take a wait-and-see approach with the new governor.
Others questioned Mr. Warner's dismissal Friday of an estimated 130 Gilmore administration appointees and other state employees.
"It's the governor's prerogative [but] I am concerned that by saying 'Don't come back Monday,' it may cause some problems with the administration of government," said House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith, Salem Republican.
Ed Matricardi, executive director of the state Republican Party, said bipartisanship is up to "Mark Warner, not us."
"Every time there is a tight budget, it just makes the partisan differences that much more difficult to deal with," he said.


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