Maura Healey, the state’s 73rd governor, took her oath of office on Beacon Hill Thursday. With a glance back across her family’s local history and a glimpse ahead to the path she hopes to forge for the state, Healey vowed that “Massachusetts can, and will, lead the world.”
In her inaugural address, the new governor highlighted steps toward tackling two areas she described as “unacceptable”: the state’s high housing costs and condition of its transportation infrastructure. Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, who until Wednesday was the mayor of Salem, said the state cannot thrive without meeting its housing and transportation needs.
“No matter the challenges we face ahead, we will stay true to the best of ourselves,” Healey said. “We will act with empathy and with equity, and we will work together. As governor — as your governor — I promise you these principles will be my North Star.”
Healey and Driscoll, the first two-woman executive team in Massachusetts and one of the first two elected nationwide in 2022, nodded to the historic nature of their win in their speeches. Healey is also the first woman elected Massachusetts governor, and with her oath Thursday became the nation’s first openly lesbian governor.
Along with acknowledging the barriers broken, Healey, who grew up in New Hampshire, stressed her deep Massachusetts roots — she said her grandparents, who met on Gloucester’s fishing docks, covertly placed a small bag of Massachusetts dirt under the delivery table of a Maryland naval hospital so she would be born over Bay State soil.
Healey said there is much about Massachusetts that drives people to come here, like its commitment to equality, innovation economy and reputation as a place of learning. But she also said there are obstacles holding its residents back, and outlined how she plans to address them.
“We have untold wealth in the commonwealth,” the Cambridge Democrat said. “But record public revenue does little good when families can’t pay the rent, buy a home, heat their home or pay for child care.”
After taking her oath in a pomp and circumstance–laden event that featured ceremonial processionals by lawmakers, a color guard and invocation, Healey set specific timelines for some of the pledges she made during her campaign.
She plans to issue an executive order Friday appointing a cabinet-level climate chief, a national first. In her first 60 days, she said she will name a transit safety chief, and in her first 100 days she plans to file a bill to officially establish a dedicated housing secretary.
Healey also said she has already tasked her administration and finance secretary, Matthew Gorzkowicz, with identifying unused state land and buildings that could be turned into homes and rental units within a year.
When she files her first state budget plan in March, Healey said she will include money for 1,000 more workers focused on MBTA operations and create a new program that will offer free community college to students over age 25 who do not have a college degree.
Healey’s funding proposals and many of her other policy goals will require buy-in from state lawmakers. Healey’s community college idea runs along a similar theme to call Senate President Karen Spilka issued Wednesday in her own opening address — but Spilka wants to go broader and make community college free for all students.
Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano both listed action on early education as among their priorities, and Healey drew applause from lawmakers when she said she wants to pass legislation making child care more affordable.
Healey and Driscoll succeed Republicans Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, and their inauguration means all of the state’s constitutional offices are now held by Democrats, who also wield supermajority control of the state Legislature.
After Healey spoke, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, a Gloucester Republican who was often an enthusiastic voice in the Legislature for Baker’s policies, said many of the issues Healey highlighted — like tax relief, housing and the environment — were also focal points for her predecessor.
“What strikes me the most today is actually the continuity of the issues that the prior administration was working on and that the new administration is committed to working on, and I think that’s a very good sign,” Tarr said.
WATCH: Maura Healey is officially governor of Massachusetts. What will she do first?