With pride in our people, who made the
decision on Election Day, we stand at a
happy passage in the life of this Commonwealth. Douglas Wilder is more than our
new lieutenant governor; Mary Sue Terry
is more than our new attorney general.
Their presence on this platform signifies
and ratifies our long, sometimes painful,
but morally imperative journey from the
darkness of subjugation and discrimination
into the sunlight of a fuller liberty.
HOWEVER SLOW and subtle the transition has been for Virginia, it was firmly and dramatically evident in the state capital on Saturday, both in the inaugural words of the Commonwealth's 65th elected governor and in the complexion of the moment. Gov. Gerald L. Baliles made it eloquently clear that the impressive commitment of his predecessor, Charles Robb, to the inclusion of women and blacks in the voices of Virginia's management and concerns will not be lost on this administration. And if the words and the spirit of the inaugural celebrants this weekend were any indicators of a new mood of acceptance, there is more than campaign sloganeering in Gov. Baliles' vision of Virginia as "a new dominion, rooted in abiding values, ready to enter an era when a decade will end, a century will turn and a new economy will be born."
Four years ago, Gov. Robb pledged to "look beyond the traditional sources" from which state officials had been selected -- and he did. Then as in his departure Saturday, Mr. Robb enjoyed overwhelming support from those people whose voices are finally being heard. That support was sought, inherited and acknowledged by his successor. "Today, more than ever before in our history, we truly are one people," Gov. Baliles said. "We are strong enough to help the weak. We shall never exile them to an invisible corner or treat them as scapegoats."
It is not that Virginia has suddenly shucked its history and "gone liberal." As Gov. Baliles described it, Virginians "rejected the call to retreat from public endeavor . . . you declined the temptation to misuse conservatism as an excuse for indifference."
An indication of how and what Gov. Baliles hopes to deliver over the next four years should come today, when he addresses the state legislature for the first time. With talented and experienced colleagues in the other two top offices of the executive branch and with majorities in both houses of the legislature who are members of his party, the opportunity for a fast start awaits.