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New governor says not to fear change

January 16, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland must learn to live within its means, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said Wednesday after he was sworn in as Maryland's 60th governor.

"We should not be fearful of change, of reform, of better ideas, particularly where taxpayer dollars are concerned," Ehrlich told about 1,500 people gathered in front of the State House.

Ehrlich, the state's first Republican governor in three decades, spent most of his 12-minute speech thanking family members for supporting him and his mentors for teaching him.

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He gave a nod to former Governors Marvin Mandel, Harry Hughes and William Donald Schaefer, who were on stage with him.

In a prepared speech, Ehrlich planned to salute outgoing Gov. Parris Glendening.

But he left out those words when Glendening didn't attend the ceremony.

The outgoing governor told the Associated Press he did not want to upstage Ehrlich.

Outgoing Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend did attend.

"Boy, I'm so proud you're here today," Ehrlich told her.

Ehrlich talked lovingly of his wife, Kendel Ehrlich.

"This lady has shown me complete faith and confidence - complete. She is my foundation and she is my partner and believe me, she is going to be one terrific first lady for this state," he said.

In addressing his policy priorities for the state, Ehrlich said he will work to fight drug addiction, ensure public safety, provide educational opportunities and help the working poor and people with disabilities.

Michael Steele was sworn in as the first African-American lieutenant governor in the state's history.

Quoting from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, Steele said it was fitting that the ceremony fell on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

"Marylanders, each of you has a seat at the table of Ehrlich and Steele," Steele said.

Steele described Ehrlich as a man of principle, vision and leadership.

Republicans called themselves the party of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, harking back to two figures who worked for the rights of blacks.

During most of the hour-long ceremony, a group of about 50 anti-death penalty protesters stood in back chanting.

Former NFL football player Jack Kemp was the only speaker to make reference to the protesters.

"Don't let that little disturbance bother you. Anybody who has been booed by 60,000 people in Buffalo stadium is not going let it bother him," Kemp said.

After Chief Judge Robert M. Bell performed the swearing-in of both Ehrlich and Steele, the larger crowd began to chant "Go Bob Go," drowning out the protesters for a short time.

Comptroller William Donald Schaefer said Ehrlich has integrity, he's not afraid to take risks and he cares about people.

"I want Bob to succeed," Schaefer said. "There's no room for division if we are to meet the challenges ahead."

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