Pritzker, Illinois constitutional officers celebrate 2023 inauguration

Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 6:35 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The top leaders in Illinois politics were sworn into office Monday. Gov. JB Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton each spoke with optimism for their second term leading the state. The Democrats highlighted many of their key plans that passed during their first term and talked about hope for the future of Illinois.

With his first term now in the rearview mirror, Pritzker has lofty goals for his next four years in office. The governor wants to make preschool available for every family and expand childcare options. Pritzker said he hopes to make college tuition free for working-class families.

He is also closely watching lawmakers this week to see if they will pass an assault weapon ban during the final days of the lame-duck session. Pritzker stressed that Illinois should become the ninth state to ban assault-style weapons.

“We ought to have a real accounting of the assault weapons currently in circulation,” Pritzker said. “Let’s get it done and then the federal government should follow our lead.”

The governor also said that Illinois will continue to trust women and protect reproductive rights from attacks by alt-right judges and lawmakers.

“The right to privacy and bodily autonomy demand that we establish a constitutional protection for reproductive rights in Illinois,” Pritzker said. “The extremists still want to take away a woman’s right to choose, and I don’t intend to let them.”

The Pritzker administration also plans to address the rise in hate crimes across Illinois. Pritzker said Illinois should never allow racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, misogyny, or homophobia. Stratton is a key partner working on that goal. She noted that all Illinoisans have the power to build the future they want and deserve because everyone has a voice.

“As I approach the next four years, I often think of the African philosophy of Ubuntu, which means, ‘I am because we are,’” Stratton said. “We are each shaped by our relationships with each other. How we interact with each other should reflect our inherent human connectedness.”

Attorney General Kwame Raoul told supporters in the Bank of Springfield Center that he is ready to defend the Pretrial Fairness Act as the battle over ending cash bail goes before the Illinois Supreme Court this spring.

“Consistent with our constitutional presumption of innocence, we should not hold people in jail simply because they are poor,” Raoul said. “We cannot continue to criminalize poverty.”

Comptroller Susana Mendoza was also sworn in for a second term in office while Alexi Giannoulias took the oath of office to replace longtime Secretary of State Jesse White. Mendoza recalled a secret White told her during the Illinois State Fair a few years ago. White told Mendoza how she could be the top “vote-getter” in Illinois.

“He said you show up. You show up,” Mendoza said. “So when someone tells you that it’s not worth your time to travel six hours to an event where only 10 people show up, you show up anyway. He reminded me that those 10 people matter and they’re gonna know that you care about them. I know you care. That’s what you told me, Secretary. Thank you. I do, and I promise you that I’m gonna keep showing up.”

Giannoulias honored White for his many years of public service and thanked him for handing off the baton for the Secretary of State’s office. He also wanted to share a lesson for his young daughters during the swearing-in ceremony. Giannoulias said service to a greater good is something that everyone must strive for, but especially to those which much has been given. Alexi spent time recognizing the sacrifices the Giannoulias family made years ago as immigrants for him to be serving Illinois today.

“When I was state treasurer, my very first day in office, I passed the most wide-ranging comprehensive ethics package in state government,” Giannoulias said. “And today, as soon as I leave here, I will sign executive orders ensuring ethics and integrity in the Secretary of State’s Office. Transparency, good government and using technology and innovation to eliminate the time tax that too many of you are paying every day just to access simple government services will be my administration’s focus.”

Treasurer Michael Frerichs celebrated his third inauguration, but he also recognized the recent loss of his close friend, Sen. Scott Bennett. Frerichs said that many people know that he frequently tries to be optimistic and see the good in every situation. However, Frerichs stressed that his Champaign colleague’s passing was tough.

“The only real good I can find is it brought home to me, that none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow and that we should make the most of the todays we have,” Frerichs said. “It reiterated to me that we should work to do the most good for the people of the state while we are here and while we have this opportunity.”

The biggest names in Illinois politics partied with the constitutional officers inside the Illinois State Fair’s Exposition Building for Pritzker’s inaugural celebration.

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