January 14, 1985
The Honorable George H. Seibert Jr., distinguished former governors, members of our congressional delegation, my colleagues of the Board of Public Works, members of the West Virginia Legislature, members of the judiciary, distinguished guests, my fellow West Virginians, and if you will permit me, my wife Shelley, my children, my grandchildren and my family, each of whom shares significantly in what I am and what my hopes for our State of West Virginia are all about.
Twice before I submitted to the oath of office as governor of West Virginia. In both instances, my family and I were ever mindful of the responsibility you entrusted upon us.
As momentous as those two occasions were, neither can compare to the overwhelming sense of gratitude we feel today. For today marks an unprecedented chapter in our life as public servants and in West Virginia's history. To become the first governor to serve a third, four-year term is indeed a rare privilege and a unique honor.
To all West Virginians, I once again accept with total commitment the obligations of governor. And, I accept with eagerness and enthusiasm your mandate to lead this great state of ours out of its long winter of discontent.
To every West Virginian, whatever your station or circumstance in life, I ask you to join with me in rededicating yourself to the dynamic spirit of the revolution that forged our nation and our state.
In a sense, these immediate years will require that we forge a new revolution - a new revolution in thought if we are to turn our State of West Virginia to a bright future to give it a positiveness that arms us with the ability to reshape the destiny of the people of our state. It must, in all its parts, excite every West Virginian, instill in the thoughts of every West Virginian that the prospects of a better and brighter opportunity is at hand for all our citizens.
The men and women who founded our country were adventurers who took the personal risks of the most extreme kind. The driving force behind that spirit of adventure was the risk- taking and individual commitment that turned a raw land into a great nation. Theirs was not a timid, fearful view of an unknown future. For they know that the uncertainty of the future invites us to create, to be tough-minded to invent and to innovate.
These are the times that call for revolutionary ideas, an abundance of idealism and strong resolve to work for a cause greater than ourselves. We must change this state now. Not out of disrespect of our rich heritage and great institutions, but in recognition that we must build a new and vigorous West Virginia of tomorrow. Nothing less is at stake than the very quality of our lives. We must make a new West Virginia. And in doing so, we have to rethink the whole fabric of our life.
The old ways of addressing our problems are no longer sufficient. It has been said, "If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas, shoddy philosophies, selfish politics and a self-serving government."
Our concern is not where we stand today as a state, but in what direction we are going. West Virginians must understand that prosperity and progress involves us all and it involves our acceptance of change.
This cannot be a West Virginia of the past, for if it is to be, then history will record that you and I have failed.
This cannot be a West Virginia of the past, for it means we will have placed no higher responsibility on those who work and serve our state. History will then record that we have failed to obtain the loyalty and respect of those who serve our state and failed to acknowledge that theirs is a special assignment in this new administration. Personal dignity of self in his or her work is to again be recognized as a necessary part and a contribution to a new West Virginia.
For too long, adversary politics has prevented any meaningful or creative solution to the problems we face as a people. As a result, West Virginians have been subjected to undue hardships, burdens, and unfilled expectations.
Even considering the crisis that exists in our economy, the long-term, self-interest of all of us should be the same. As Benjamin Franklin advised during those tumultuous years, "Most assuredly we will hang separately unless we all hang together."
We have seen how long a positive attitude worked successfully for the mutual benefit of both parties in the recent negotiations of the national contract between labor and management in the recent national coal contract. I commend labor and the coal operators for their determination to resolve their differences without disruption.
This administration is the beneficiary of this constructive, labor-management event, and we expect to take advantage of this four years of peace in our mining industry to redirect, re- establish, and rebuild, not only its public acceptance as an honorable life's work, but more importantly to give it a sense of a new beginning.
This is an opportune time for West Virginians to demonstrate that individuals of different political persuasion can join forces, unified in a common purpose. I have always believed that the best politics is good government. I look forward to working with the Legislature in that constructive sprit. Together we can succeed in achieving the main objective that all of us share: Moving West Virginia on the forward path of economic prosperity and sustaining that movement beyond this generation.
Should you choose to stand in the way, should you apply politics as usual in looking to our future because of your desire to direct or lead the state at some future time, should you obstruct for obstruction's sake, then you will have compounded our difficulties, suffocated those years of opportunity and inherited a state and people without hope, without opportunity, and without a belief in themselves.
The responsibility of stimulating this state's economy lies squarely before government, labor and management. Unless we succeed in this endeavor, all other goals and priorities will not come to pass.
I have never believed that government's role is to be the adversary of the employer and employee. Rather, it is our role to work constructively, creatively, and innovatively to make a better life for all of us.
In the days ahead, we will present to the people and their representatives in the Legislature what will indeed be revolutionary ideas and programs to instill economic recovery in West Virginia. Ideas that are workable, that will encourage our existing industries to stay with us, that will attract new industry and enterprise to our borders and that will begin the building of a new West Virginia.
It is our intention to put into place a program to encourage this development. With it we will recognize the fundamental need to revamp our governmental structure so that it rewards investment, entrepreneurial ability and productivity rather than penalizing it.
West Virginia must also come to grips with many laws on the books in our state. For as they exist today, they have created burdens which our citizens cannot meet and which are driving them out of our state; they have served to compound the burdens on employers and employees who are still a part of our state. We cannot and will not let that continue. This new state of West Virginia must be run fairly and equitably for all its citizens.
Our state is an incredible storehouse of energy ... by anyone's standards. We possess vast resources of coal, oil, gas, water and forests. Traditionally, we have been a leading exporter of coal. We generate more electricity than we use. But, our markets have severely diminished while all around us our sister states are enjoying a healthy and stable growth. There is a reason for this. State government in the main contributes to this dilemma more than the sum total of all our difficulties.
I have discussed with leaders of management, labor and transportation of the need to address the challenge of making West Virginia coal competitive with that of her neighboring states. Their cooperation and willingness in their response has been heartening and encouraging. The way in which West Virginia's state government attacks this problem and aids in building more employment opportunities in the mining industry is the cornerstone of our new West Virginia. Our program to accomplish this will be presented to our citizens and their legislators upon their reconvening for public debate and discussion in February.
Coal is inextricably tied to our future and our future is most assuredly tied to coal.
In tandem with meeting that challenge, we must radically change the way state government is structured in relationship to mineral extraction.
Presently, identities that want to engage in the extraction of our mineral wealth have to deal with more than a dozen state entities. It has been taking anywhere from a year and a half to five years to open a new mine in West Virginia. This is inexcusable. We intend to streamline this government and drastically reduce the time it takes for state government to give an answer in all areas where state government is called upon to act.
Our chemical industry has been a focal point of international attention and criticism in recent weeks, given the tragedy that occurred in another part of the world.
People who view West Virginians as just coal miners or hillbillies miss the side of us that has West Virginians safely handling, processing and making things that the rest of the world needs to eat, sleep, drive and survive. West Virginians employed in our chemical manufacturing industries make them here. We're proud of that, and we're not afraid of it. We are a people with technical expertise and experience to do it.
We recognize the risks involved. We shall examine thoroughly and constructively the manner in which such manufacturing occurs in West Virginia. But it will be done in a calm, fair and positive atmosphere.
While I have addressed the development of an economic program relating to our energy resources, I will waste no time in examining chemicals, steel, glass and manufacturing jobs to make them more secure for those now employed, and to create a positive climate for growth and the creation of additional job opportunities in order to ensure future educational, academic and intellectual vitality. If necessary, we must be willing to pursue a different course to engage the public's interest and support.
If we are to move a new West Virginia into the 21st century as a progressive and dynamic state, then we must also examine and restructure the manner in which state government operates. Management of state government must be efficient and decisive.
We will return the operation of state government on a business-like basis. Measures will be initiated to assure that there is no duplication of effort or waste of resources. Tax dollars will be invested wisely and managed prudently. State government will be held accountable to the people.
Our decisions will be based on the best interest of West Virginia and not on public opinion polls. Our plans for the future will be made with a vision toward the long-term benefits to our citizens, and those plans will be followed.
We intend to forge strong ties of cooperation not only with the Legislature but with city and county government, to help them with their efforts to build better and more viable communities.
We shall restore an attitude of respect towards the employees of our state.
In all that we do, the citizens of our state as a whole will be uppermost in our minds and in all our actions.
Patience is required because the nature of our problems is indeed awesome.
Patience is asked as we strive to create a new West Virginia.
The tasks ahead are complex and far-reaching in the impact they bear upon every West Virginian. They require bold and imaginary leadership and positive action. Never in the past have we been afraid to make those decisions or take the necessary action, however painful or difficult; nor will we shy from them now or in the future. We have not assumed the office of governor to abdicate to others the responsibilities of our office.
In recent years, West Virginia has had government by the courts. What the judiciary has been trying to do has been suggested to be right. When it said we need better education, it has been suggested it was right. When the court said we have to take care of our mentally retarded, it has been suggested it was right. The shame of it is that the court ever had to say it at all.
With due respect to the court, the judiciary should understand and be aware that this chief executive shall lead and have the vision to address the broad range of human problems that affect us all. Together, with the Legislature, and within the confines of the budget, the creative solutions will originate with this governor and this government to deal with these human needs.
Historically, West Virginians have supported wholeheartedly and sacrificed immensely to assure that the opportunities for their children's education were the best in quality and in meeting their academic, vocational, occupational and life-learning needs.
The defeat of Amendment Four challenges all of us to rethink this priority and to provide the creative ideas to adapt to circumstances in which our educational system and educators find themselves. West Virginia must demonstrate her capacity to adapt.
There is no quick answer or instant solution to the challenges at hand. But make no mistake, from this day forward, the process for change, for revolutionary approaches to solving our problems has begun and we are determined that we will succeed.
Today, the orderly transfer of authority takes place, an occurrence that is an integral part of our tradition as West Virginians.
It takes place amid surroundings that are visible reminders of our heritage. To the west of our state Capitol stands our Cultural Center, where our past and present meld together in celebrating the mosaics of the arts and in preserving a treasure-house of history.
This magnificent Capitol building, completed during the depths of the depression, speaks eloquently of the enduring spirit of West Virginians, reflecting the character and strength of purpose of our state.
Below us, at the edge of this lawn, the lonely figure of Lincoln walking at midnight ... our tribute to the great emancipator who gave our state its birth, and who better than anyone knew adversity and tragedy associated with the historical admonition that a house divided cannot stand.
These moments are the manifestations of a people who dared to give of themselves for generations for the love of their community. They reflect upon a people who are unafraid, who were tough and bold in times past in terms of national and state adversity.
Let us, like them, dare what others only dream. Then we will have gained deeper meaning to the search for a useful and better life in this great State of West Virginia.
"With malice toward none, with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in ..."
"We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours. He who will adventure will experience it ... according to the measure of his courage."
This must be a cause to which we all submit.
This new West Virginia.
"If we listen attentively, we shall hear amid the uproar of empires and nations, the faint fluttering of wings, the gentle stirring of life and hope. Some say this hope lies in a nation, others in a man.
"I believe rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals, whose deeds and words every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history."
There will be a new West Virginia and as time and success will be ours, be assured my fellow citizens that West Virginians are coming back.
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