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Press Release: Molly Gray Sworn in as 82nd Lieutenant Governor of Vermont

Submitted by Hazel.Brewster… on Fri, 01/08/2021 - 12:16

MOLLY GRAY SWORN IN AS 82ND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF VERMONT

 

Montpelier, VT - On January 7th, 2021, Molly Gray was sworn into office as the 82nd Lieutenant Governor of Vermont by the Honorable Peter W. Hall of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the Senate Chamber of the Vermont State House.  
 
Following the ceremony, Lieutenant Governor Gray delivered an Inaugural address to the Senate, the majority of whom were present virtually. Gray’s remarks began with a moment of silence in recognition of the 152 Vermont lives lost to Covid-19 and a rebuke of yesterday’s attack on the nation’s capital. Gray said, “I stand before you today in shared sadness and disbelief. Let the record forever reflect that this was an attack on our democracy, constitution, and most dearly held principles by a sitting president.” 
 
She went on to address the work yet to be done to defeat the pandemic, saying “Our history shows that as Vermonters we are brave in the face of fear, we defy the odds, we are not afraid of the unknown, and we welcome the opportunity and responsibility to lead and set a new course. Perhaps it’s the harshness of our winters, the unpredictability of our seasons, the stubbornness and resilience of those who came before us, or a deep pride in the place we are so fortunate to call home, that binds us and enables us, to turn our greatest challenges into our greatest opportunities. This moment lacks neither.” 
 
The Lieutenant Governor spoke to the key issues brought to the forefront by the Covid-19 pandemic in Vermont; the economic well-being of families, the growth of the workforce and viability of communities, the lack of reliable broadband access state-wide, the threat of climate change on Vermont’s working lands and environment, and the state’s demographic crisis. The Lieutenant Governor also noted the progress needed to achieve social, racial, and economic justice in Vermont, which were issues underscored by the Black Lives Matter movement and the justifiable social unrest over the past year.  
 
“Unfortunately, this pandemic is far from over and as we well know, it has laid everything bare: from inequities in access to basic internet so critical for online learning and remote work to the absolute essentialness of affordable, quality child care to the economic wellbeing of our families and businesses...Not only will we be judged by how effectively we continue to meet the humanitarian and emergency needs of Vermonters, but also how we envision and prepare for a stronger, more equitable and economically viable Vermont.” 
 
Gray was elected to the office of Lieutenant Governor on November 3, 2020, and is the fourth woman in Vermont’s history to hold the office of Lieutenant Governor. She most recently served at Assistant Attorney General. 

 

A transcript of Lt. Governor Gray's remarks are included below:

 

Members of the Vermont Senate, distinguished guests and fellow Vermonters, good morning.

I want to begin by thanking the people of Vermont for their faith and trust in me and for the

privilege to serve our State. To serve Vermont and Vermonters is the greatest honor of my life.

I also want to thank dear friends and colleagues for their support, and above all my parents, Bob

and Kim Gray, and family who could not be here in person today, for their unwavering love and

encouragement.

I would like to begin with a recognition of those who are not here. Since the start of this

pandemic, we have lost 152 Vermonters. Vermonters who had love to share with their families

and much to contribute to our communities. I hope that you will join me in a moment of silence

to recognize these Vermonters.

[PAUSE]

Thank you.

________

Beneath the shadow of grief caused by this pandemic, hangs another shadow brought by

yesterday’s attack — incited by President Trump — on the U.S. Capitol and Members of

Congress who were upholding their constitutional obligations to certify national election results.

I stand before you today in shared sadness and disbelief. I commend our Governor for his

leadership last evening in calling for the resignation of President Trump or that he be removed

from office by his Cabinet, or Congress.

Let the record forever reflect that this was an attack on our democracy, constitution, and most

dearly held principles by a sitting president.

Our thoughts are with those brave men and women in the U.S. Capitol who did work yesterday

at great personal risk to protect the foundations of our democracy, with Members of Congress

and members of the press, and especially with Vermont’s Congressional Delegation and their

dedicated staff.

If ever there were a time to have Vermont’s values present in Washington, it is today.

Our thoughts, however, must also be here — in this space, and time, and moment — where we

are called to act with resolve for the well-being of our friends and neighbors, for the resilience of

our communities, and for the strength of our democracy.

________

Our history shows that as Vermonters we are brave in the face of fear, we defy the odds, we are

not afraid of the unknown, and we welcome the opportunity and responsibility to lead and set a

new course.

Perhaps it’s the harshness of our winters, the unpredictability of our seasons, the stubbornness

and resilience of those who came before us, or a deep pride in the place we are so fortunate to

call home, that binds us and enables us, to turn our greatest challenges into our greatest

opportunities.

This moment lacks neither.

As we well know, faith in government — and in public officials — has been badly damaged by

the proliferation of misinformation and division.

Our challenge, or opportunity here today, is to commit to the principles and values that give

Vermonters a deep pride and full faith in the promise — and the essentialness — of good

government.

That is why I asked someone who I greatly admire — someone who embodies personal integrity

and public service — to administer the oath: Judge Peter Hall. Having had the honor of serving

in Judge Hall’s chambers as a law clerk, I have witnessed how he lives the ideals that make a

democracy work: humility and compassion, a fierce commitment to fairness, an unyielding

dedication to equal protection and the rule of law, and an unshakeable belief in, and commitment

to, good government.

My commitment to you is to emulate the principles and values I have witnessed Judge Hall

uphold throughout his career, in presiding over this Chamber: fairness, compassion,

predictability and, most certainly, timeliness.

From our communities to this Chamber, let us set a tone of civility, cooperation and productivity,

and do our part to restore and strengthen faith in good government.

________

Second, this hard year has also laid bare some difficult truths about our country, and about

Vermont.

The brutal killing of George Floyd, and the resulting justifiable social unrest across this nation

and on town greens across Vermont, exposed a reckoning with the work deeply needed to

unravel centuries of compounding inequality.

As we start this biennium and recognize the challenges and opportunities before us, let us recall

that joining in recognition and support of Black Lives Matter marks neither the beginning nor the

end of inequality, but rather an awakening to the continuous experience of members of our

communities.

This Chamber has a history of fighting for civil rights, and this year it welcomes new senators

and leadership whose experiences and voices only strengthen our ability to meet this moment.

History will reflect how we come together and what measures we take to protect and promote

equal protection under the law and demand respect for human dignity.

I look forward to working with each of you, and all Vermonters, in this undertaking.

________

But there is still more work to be done — more challenges and opportunities — top among them,

recovering stronger from this pandemic.

Vermont’s pandemic response has made me so proud to be a Vermonter. We continue to stick

together, stay home, and look out for our neighbors.

Unfortunately, this pandemic is far from over and, as we well know, it has laid everything bare:

From inequities in access to basic internet so critical for online learning and remote work, to the

absolute essentialness of affordable, quality child care, to the economic well-being of our

families and businesses.

Not only will we be judged by how effectively we continue to meet the humanitarian and

emergency needs of Vermonters, but also how we envision and prepare for a stronger, more

equitable and economically viable Vermont.

There are countless examples of creative, out-of-the box thinking that are already transforming

how we do business.

Using federal relief funds, for example, local restaurants have prepared meals for families in

need, while supporting our farmers and strengthening local food systems.

When schools closed, childcare providers worked with communities to open facilities to expand

access and support families and essential workers across Vermont.

Restaurants and libraries closed their doors, but left open access to WiFi, making the internet

accessible to local students and workers who needed to get online.

In envisioning Vermont’s future, I am inspired by these stories and so many Vermonters I’ve

met: young farmers and food producers, business leaders, founders of community co-working

spaces and innovative start-ups, home-grown renewable energy pioneers, and Vermonters who

serve our state as teachers, tradespeople, first responders and healthcare workers.

They know, as we do, that nothing about our future will be business as usual. They recognize

that as one of the oldest states in the country, our future depends on strategic investments in our

economic infrastructure.

So much of the work that needs to be done is already well underway in this Chamber:

First, the economic well-being of our families.

We must continue to envision and enact a future where no Vermonter has to choose between

paying the bills and caring for family. A future where every worker has the security of paid

family and medical leave, every parent can access the high-quality childcare necessary to do

their best work, every elder is supported as they look to age in dignity and good health, and every

Vermonter can choose the course of their life as we protect the right to reproductive health.

Second, the growth of our workforce and viability of our communities.

We must continue to envision and enact a future where small businesses and new industries are

growing, and a diverse workforce pipeline — from our high schools to our technical schools,

community and state colleges — brings the next generation into good and necessary jobs in

Vermont. We must bring our local businesses back from the brink, and lay the cornerstones for a

stronger economy by supporting recruitment and retention, new jobs across technology, clean

energy, and recreation, all the while bringing Vermont’s world-class goods and services to new

markets near and far.

Third, a 21st century Vermont is one that is connected by rural broadband.

We will not recover stronger, we will not draw people to Vermont, we will not end our

demographic crisis, if we do not act now to close Vermont’s broadband gap. The market alone,

has not, and will not, ensure access for every Vermonter.

The internet is the electricity of our time. Each day without it is a day without telehealth, remote

work, online learning, and economic opportunity.

I look forward to working with you, our rural communities, and federal partners, to get this

essential service to all of our communities.

Finally, we must not forget our working lands and environment.

As we know, climate change is a threat to everything that makes Vermont so special and climate

action represents the greatest economic opportunity of our time. Our opportunity is to act with

the same urgency on climate change as we have in responding to this pandemic and allow

science to lead our decisions. We know that an energy-independent future will save families

money, create high-paying jobs, and ensure that future generations can know the landscape we

love so much.

________

I am inspired by the faith that Vermonters have placed in us, and their trust that we recognize the

opportunities before us: to restore faith in good government, to fight for human dignity, to do all

we can to recover stronger from this pandemic, but most of all to put people before politics in

our work.

As President Kennedy once said at a time as nearly challenging as this, “[u]nited, there is little

we cannot do . . . [d]ivided there is little we can do.”

We know that brighter days are ahead and that we will only reach the horizon together.

I will be with you, day in and day out, in this work and I look forward to working with you,

united for a better future.

Thank you and let’s get to work.

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