Ala. Swearing-In Ceremonies

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Bob Riley became Alabama's governor Monday with a challenge to the state's citizens to summon the unique "spirit of Alabama" and unite in solving problems that have plagued Alabama for generations.

The Republican governor said in his inaugural address, he wants "fundamental change and reform," not quick, temporary fixes.

Riley, a former three-term congressman, took the oath of office from Chief Justice Roy Moore on an unusually warm inauguration day, with temperatures in the mid-60s.

Riley was joined on the inaugural platform by his wife, Patsy, and their three children. A fourth child, Jenice Riley, died of cancer on August 18, 2001, six weeks after her father kicked off his campaign for governor.

Riley quietly remembered her by having an empty chair on the inaugural stand with a single rose in the seat, and he wore a favorite pair of boots that she had given him.

The schedule of festivities began Saturday with a street party in Riley's hometown of Ashland, in the hill country of east Alabama, and ended with a black-tie Inaugural ball featuring the country band Alabama.

Prior to the swearing-in, Governor-elect Riley spoke from the same pulpit where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ignited the civil rights movement nearly a half-century ago. He promised to end racial division in Alabama.

Riley's remarks were made to a racially mixed audience of about 400 people at a memorial service for King at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.

After singing "Onward Christian Soldiers," Riley took the podium and said Alabama needs to be more than just the state where the civil rights movement began.

The service at the King church was the first event of the day. He later paid tribute to Confederate General Robert E. Lee at a ceremony where some in the audience sang "Dixie."

Before a silent, almost all-white audience of about 100, Riley and his wife Patsy placed a wreath under a painting of Lee in the old Supreme Court chamber at the Capitol. Monday is an official state holiday honoring both King and Lee.

Lucy Baxley became the first woman to serve as Alabama's lieutenant governor and only the second woman to hold one of the state's top two elected positions.

Baxley took the oath of office from the Rev. John Ed Mathison, pastor of Montgomery's Frazier United Methodist Church. In a brief Inaugural speech, she said it's time to stop classifying people by sex, race or political party.

Baxley, 65, a Democrat, had served as state treasurer for the past eight years. The only other woman to serve in one of the state's top two elected offices was Governor Lurleen Wallace, who was elected in 1966. Lurleen Wallace died of cancer in 1968 while in office.

Baxley, a native of Houston County, said Alabama's elected officials know what problems face the state. She said they needed to work together to fix them.

Baxley promised to spend the next four years as lieutenant governor "seeking to find solutions and not seeking blame."

Attorney General Bill Pryor said in his inauguration speech that his goal for the next four years ago is to finish the job of bringing Alabama's "outdated constitution" into the 21st Century.

Pryor, beginning his second full term in office, remembered his speech at the inauguration ceremony four years ago in which he promised to work to remove outdated language from the 1901 state constitution that prohibited interracial marriages.

Alabama voters have since passed an amendment formally legalizing interracial marriage, but Pryor said there's more that needs to be done.

The Mobile Republican was sworn-in by Alabama Supreme Court Justice Jean Brown. Pryor also said he would strengthen efforts to prosecute white-collar crime, including election fraud.

Pryor also said work needs to be done to relieve the backlog of prisoners in county jails and overcrowding in state prisons. He also promised to continue to work to reform sentencing guidelines.


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