Hay farmer-congressman moves into governor's mansion
By STEVE BROWN
OLYMPIA -- Gov. Jay Inslee harked back to his rural roots during his inaugural address Jan. 16.
Speaking to a joint session of the state's Legislature and dignitaries and visitors, Inslee pointed with pride to his roots as a fifth-generation Washingtonian.
His family first came to Washington as fishermen and gold miners, and he and his wife, Trudi, raised their family in a century-old farmhouse in the Yakima Valley.
"I am proud of the working people of Washington, and I know their work, having driven bulldozers in Bellevue, painted houses in Burien, run the business end of a jackhammer, prosecuted drunk drivers and raised hay in the Yakima Valley," he said.
He said jobs would be his top priority and listed agriculture among the industries he would focus on.
In his years as a congressman, Inslee was known for his focus on renewable energy, and he said Washington is in position to lead "the world's clean energy economy."
The state is vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate, as ocean levels rise, wildfires increase and ocean acidification worsens, he said.
"In Eastern Washington, our long tradition in agriculture could be threatened if the snowpack declines," he said. "Water stored as snow is money in the bank for Washington's rural economies, but the bank could fail if we don't act."
Also delivering inaugural remarks in a separate ceremony was Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. In his elected position, he leads the Department of Natural Resources.
Goldmark maintains a small scientific research facility at his ranch near Okanogan and recently released new wheat varieties.
Starting his second four-year term with a ceremony in the lobby of the DNR building, he said managing state lands has become more challenging. Climate change especially puts at risk aquatic areas and forests.
In the past four years, he said, activities such as leases on state-owned farmland and timber sales have added $921 million in non-tax revenue to the state's coffers. That money funds construction of public schools, colleges, universities and other government institutions, as well as aiding county and state services.
Goldmark praised his agency's hard work and encouraged employees to keep up the effort.
"We can keep our resources both productive and beautiful," he said.