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Gov. JB Pritzker sworn in for a 2nd term

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on Monday was sworn into office for a second term alongside Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton and four other state constitutional officers.

The ceremony, held at the Bank of Springfield, 1 Convention Center Plaza, featured musical performances by Tiffany Mathis, the Southern Illinois Children’s Reunion Choir and Uplifting Voices Chicago.

During his inaugural speech, Pritzker said his priorities for the upcoming term include expanding preschool and childcare access, making healthcare more affordable and making college tuition free for working class families.

Pritzker went on to speak about gun violence, saying that shortly after his 2019 inauguration he went to stand with the victims of the Henry Pratt Company shooting in Aurora. He then acknowledged the shooting at Benito Juarez High School in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, which took place on Dec. 16.

“I'm tired of living in a world,” Pritzker said, “where a mass shooting needs a title so that you know which one you’re referring to. Hospitals, high schools, homes, parades, offices, there is no place, geographic or otherwise, that's been spared from the threat of gun violence.”

He said Illinois should become the ninth state to pass an assault rifle ban.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul also spoke about gun violence in his speech. Raoul talked about the Highland Park shooting on July 4. He also brought up two shootings which took place in the weeks following: one in Washington Park on Chicago’s South Side and one in Garfield Park on the city’s West Side.

Raoul said those shootings did not receive as much media attention as Highland Park. He said that’s because gun violence is expected in those areas. But, he said, it shouldn’t be.

“I’ll say about gun violence what I said about the opioid and heroin crisis, we weren't troubled when we thought they were quarantined to poor inner-city neighborhoods,” Raoul said. “We actually tolerated the impact of the opioid addiction until it spread to more affluent areas. That should not be our normal and we should be ashamed.”

Pritzker and Raoul both touted access to reproductive rights in the state.

“Illinois spoke loudly and decisively in 2022,” Pritzker said, “and declared that in the Land of Lincoln, we trust women.”

The governor also addressed the rise of hate crimes and anti-semitism in the country. He spoke about Sam Harris, a Holocaust survivor who Pritzker worked with to open the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

“Sam is remarkable,” Pritzker said. “For nearly 30 years he has traveled the country to tell his story to impress upon people, that when hatred and bigotry go unchecked, democracy will come to an end, and even potentially lead to genocide.”

He went on to say that the people of the state take care of each other. He cited as examples the outreach when a tornado destroyed homes in Taylor and when people came together to make sure low-income families had access to food during the pandemic. And he said that hate has no place in Illinois.

“Hate needs two things to thrive: A sense of helplessness that fertilizes hopelessness, and the willingness of powerful people to cower in front of a lie,” Pritzker said. “We have power and we have hope and a genuine goodness that is rooted in being the place in this country to which all people can come and live free.”

During her speech, Stratton spoke about the state’s investments in communities impacted by the war on drugs, including investments into after-school programs. But she said there is still much work to be done.

“The work we have left to do,” Stratton said, “is centered on bringing people together, creating opportunity for all and carrying out a vision for Illinois that leaves no one behind.”

Both Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias and Comptroller Susana Mendoza thanked former Secretary of State Jesse White, who retired on Monday after 24 years in office.

Mendoza said that a couple years before White gave her a piece of advice on how to become the number one vote-getter in Illinois: you show up.

“When someone tells you that it's not worth your time, to travel six hours, to an event where only 10 people show up, you show up anyway,” Mendoza said. “He reminded me that those 10 people matter, and they're going to know that you care about them.”

Treasurer Michael Frerichs paid tribute to State Sen. Scott Bennett, who died in December. He said Bennett’s death reminded him that tomorrow is not promised and to do the most to help Illinois residents while they’re still here.

The celebration continues tonight at the State Fairgrounds with an inaugural ball. The event will be attended by the constitutional officers and members of the General Assembly, and will feature a musical performance.