PROVIDENCE — Disgruntled with state government? Well, a new one takes over today.
Lincoln Chafee will take the oath of office as Rhode Island’s 74th governor, and the first since colonial times elected as an Independent, at noon on the south steps of the Statehouse.
Chafee is the 58th governor if you count from after a new constitution was adopted after the Dorr Rebellion in 1842.
Also being sworn in at the ceremony are Elizabeth Roberts, re-elected to a second term as lieutenant governor; Peter Kilmartin, elected attorney general; Gina Raimondo, elected general treasurer; and Ralph Mollis, re-elected as secretary of state.
Mollis will administer the oath of office to Chafee and Roberts. Chafee will then swear in Mollis and Raimondo. Kilmartin will take the oath from RI Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Suttell.
Local singer-songwriter Kim Trusty will sing the national anthem, Joseph Connors, who served as the first page with Down Syndrome in the U.S. Senate under Chafee’s father, the late Sen. (and former governor) John Chafee, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Rev. Maria DeCarvalho, former Dean of the Cathedral of St. John, will offer the invocation and benediction with representatives of eight distinct religious groups standing behind her to represent the state’s religious diversity. RI Poet Laureate Lisa Starr will read an original poem and Leonardo Ampuero, an 11-year-old member of the Fraternidad Folkloria Boliviana will sing “God Bless America.”
Later in the day, the General Assembly will open its 2011 session with ceremonies in the separate chambers starting at 4 p.m.
Seven newly-elected senators and 22 new representatives will be among the members of their respective chambers who will be sworn in by Secretary of State Ralph Mollis.
Given the votes in their respective Democratic caucuses, both House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed are expected to be re-elected to their top leadership positions.
Cranston Rep. Nicholas Mattiello has been re-elected as Democratic leader in the House and Providence Sen. Dominick Ruggerio was recently elected Democratic leader in the Senate. Westerly Sen. Dennis Algiere will serve another term as Republican leader in the Senate.
Chafee has pledged to make news on his first day, issuing a “strong” executive order on ethics that will “attack the culture of corruption and cronyism,” in the state. He also promised to rescind a controversial 2008 executive order issued by outgoing Gov. Donald Carcieri that requires state departments and contractors to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure that new hires are eligible to work in this country due to their immigration status. It also requires State Police and corrections officials to work with the federal Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify illegal aliens they encounter in the course of their duties.
Chafee has voiced support, however for an initiative by incoming Attorney General Kilmartin that requires local law enforcement officers to send fingerprints of anyone who is arrested to ICE to determine their immigration status.
Inauguration parties, planned around a special lighting of Waterfire, will kick off at 5 p.m.
Chafee’s party will take place at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Roberts’ will be held at Ardeo Restaurant. Kilmartin and Raimondo will have a joint celebration at Waterplace Restaurant. Mollis will host a celebration at the Citizens Bank Building Rotunda.