Quick Takes

Dr. Steven Stack, MC for private swearing-in, praises Beshear, recalls their pandemic work

By: - December 12, 2023 2:37 pm

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack presided at Gov. Andy Beshear’s private swearing in at midnight Tuesday. (KET screenshot)

State Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack was master of ceremonies for Gov. Andy Beshear’s private swearing-in ceremony as Tuesday began, providing a platform for him to reflect on his and Beshear’s work during the pandemic, work that won public approval and set Beshear up for reelection.

Taking the lectern in the Capitol Rotunda after Land Office Director Kandie Adkinson rang bells to start the ceremony, Stack noted that Adkinson had done likewise in the rotunda for each victim of the pandemic. Then he addressed Beshear, recalling their first meeting after his first election in November 2019.

“We could scarcely have anticipated the . . . journey we would soon share,” Stack said, alluding to the March 2020 beginning of the pandemic and Beshear’s daily news briefings, where Stack usually spoke.

“Through thick and thin you supported science” and health professionals, Stack said. Despite criticism of his emergency orders restricting businesses, schools and other activities, polls early in the pandemic showed Beshear with high approval ratings for his work on it, and that was later reflected in his overall job-approval ratings, which remained positive this year despite millions of dollars of attack ads aimed at him.

The private swearing-in is held at midnight because the state Constitution says the governor and lieutenant governor’s terms begin on the day five weeks after the election. After Beshear took the oath of office, emphasizing with a smile that “I have NOT fought a duel with deadly weapons,” he said “We will continue our record-breaking economic win streak,” reward educators and get “high-speed internet to every home.”

He said the state has faced tests from the pandemic, natural disasters and the continuing opioid epidemic, and one of its most difficult challenges is the increased toxicity of politics and governance, with political attacks “turning people against their neighbors just to have one more elected leader with a certain letter after their name.” He said he hoped that Kentucky could be “a moral leader for this country.”

Stack, returning to the lectern, said people will forget what you say and do, but “People will never forget how you made them feel,” and they “don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” He told Beshear, “The people of Kentucky know how much you care.”

After taking her oath, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said Beshear “treats every Kentucky family like his own.”

In the benediction, the Rev. David Snardon asked, “May we abandon the ideology of separation, seeing ourselves as red or blue, black or white, wealthy or poor.”

This article is republished from Kentucky Health News, an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Pamela Goodwine administers the oath of office to Gov. Andy Beshear during a private ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. (KET screenshot)

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Al Cross
Al Cross

Al Cross (Twitter @ruralj) is a professor in the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media and director emeritus of its Institute for Rural Journalism. His opinions are his own, not UK’s. He was the longest-serving political writer for the Louisville Courier Journal (1989-2004) and national president of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2001-02. He joined the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in 2010.