By John Celock
Pledging to be an “unconventional” leader, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) took office during a Tuesday afternoon ceremony in Harrisburg.
Wolf, a business executive, renewed various pledges from his upstart campaign to be a new type of leader for the state. He recited some of his background while connecting his background to the promises he has for the state.
“I want to thank all Pennsylvanians that worked so hard to get me here. What you did is to take a chance to vote for a different kind of leader,” Wolf said. “For those of you out there who didn’t vote for me, I hope to give you a chance to believe. Because I am an unconventional leader, I am going to be an unconventional governor. I may be the first governor in the history of PA to operate a fork lift or who managed a hardware store.”
Wolf said that he would listen to others in government and wanted to focus on economic development in the state. He said that he wanted to address innovation in the state’s economy, including bringing new industries to economically depressed parts of the state.
Wolf addressed fracking issues in the state during his address, noting that Pennsylvania was “blessed” with various natural resources including natural gas, coal, sun, wine and fresh water. He said that the state needed to take “full and responsible advantage of these resources.”
Wolf spoke above the din of anti-fracking protestors at the ceremony and took time to address the group.
“To the protesters here today, I say: help me develop these opportunities in a way that is clean, safe and sustainable,” Wolf said.
Wolf, who ran a family materials company, was an unknown when he launched his campaign. A focus on his personality and his pledge to be “unconventional” led to him defeating then U.S. Rep. Alyson Schwartz, a favorite of national progressive groups, in last year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Wolf easily defeated Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in the November election.
Wolf had served as state revenue secretary during the administration of former Gov. Ed Rendell (D).
Wolf said that he has found many in the state to be “cynical” about government and there is a need to address the state’s middle class.
“I refuse to be a part of the first generations to be forced to tell their children that they need to go somewhere else to succeed,” he said.
Among the areas that he said he would keep a focus on was economic development, education and having government work. He referenced his private sector career on several occasions, noting that in the business world he had to work with “all kinds of people.”
He also said he wants to foster entrepreneurship in the state and would be “bold” in his administration.
Wolf has pledged to not take his salary while serving as governor and will commute an hour from his home outside of York rather than move into the governor’s mansion in Harrisburg. Sworn-in alongside Wolf was Lt. Gov. Mike Stack (D), a former state senator from Philadelphia, who won a competitive primary last year. Stack succeeds Republican Jim Cawley in the number two job.
Wolf stressed his connections to Pennsylvania during the speech.
“I am proud to be a Pennsylvanian. Proud to be born here, proud to be raised here and proud to call this state my home,” he said.