Gov. Matt Bevin: 'This is our Kentucky'

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - With the sun shining down on Kentucky's Capitol, a new era in leadership took over Tuesday in Frankfort.

Gov. Matt Bevin, a Louisville businessman, and Lt. Gov Jenean Hampton, Kentucky's first black statewide elected official, were both greeted by a large crowd on the Capitol lawn.

Bevin and Hampton thanked the voters and the teams that helped them make the trek to Frankfort. And they spoke of the many things that made them a part of Kentucky's fabric. Hampton, a self-proclaimed night owl, said she is used to hard work, and does her best at 2 a.m. Bevin expressed humanity and thanked those who help make everything happen, including those who built the very stage they were on.

It was a long day for Bevin; one that began with prayer and, after a speech encouraging Kentuckians to unite, ended with him again taking the oath.

Bevin first took the oath to become the 62nd governor of Kentucky during a private ceremony just after midnight Tuesday in the state Capitol. Bevin succeeds Democrat Steve Beshear, to become the state's ninth Republican governor in its 223-year history and the second since 1971.

Hours later, all of the public pomp and circumstance would be on display. Later in the morning, Bevin attended a worship service, walked the streets shaking hands during a parade and then returned to the Capitol steps for the public swearing-in ceremony, which included performances by local artists and choirs. Marlana VanHoose sang the national anthem and Lee Greenwood sang "God Bless the USA."

Morning worship

During a worship service in the Frankfort Convention Center, one of the pastors who spoke, noted that the inaugural service was truly a worship service, not just an inaugural activity.

"I think it puts the entire inauguration into proper context. God being the head of our lives has to be the head of all that we do, including starting this new government in Kentucky," said Scott Hofstra. He campaigned for Bevin and on Tuesday, he brought his father, who is from Michigan, to the service.

In the months leading up to his election as governor, Bevin encouraged voters to vote their values. For him, those values stem from his Christian faith.

"He is unquestionably, openly, confessionally, a man of deep faith, specifically of faith in Jesus Christ," said pastor Hershael York of Buck Run Baptist Church.

Kyle Idleman, a pastor at Southeast Christian Church, spoke about officiating the funeral for Bevin's oldest daughter after she died in a car crash.

He says when the 17-year-old was killed in 2003, the Bevins asked him to read her journal to prepare for the funeral.

One of the last prayers she wrote grants a glimpse into the faith that she shared with her father.

Idleman read part of her journal for the crowd, "As a new week approaches God, my dangerous prayer is that You will place broken-hearted people in my path and fill me with You so I can let Your love heal their pain.”

The parade

After the worship service, Bevin participated in a public parade. Excitement filled the streets as hundreds celebrated Bevin and Hampton.

The theme of Bevin's inaugural parade was honoring our veterans and first responders. The families of several fallen heroes were on hand for the parade. Folks lined up early to get their spot to see Bevin and the parade, traveling from all over the state. A group of high school students from Boyle county say they are excited to be part of history.

Bevin shook many hands along the way. Hundreds of veterans were marching at the end of the parade, and Bevin thanked them for their service.

The parade route was filled with marching bands, including Kentucky State University and several high schools throughout the state, and it included -- among others -- former Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton and actor Jon Voight.

And those who showed up crossed party lines.

"I supported him as a Democrat I think we needed a good change and I think he will be good, I think he'll be good for the commonwealth," Gene Roach said.

The parade, which lasted about two hours, wrapped up with hundreds of veterans marching towards the Capitol steps.

'This is humbling, to say the least'

Before Bevin took the stage, Hampton said she will be a positive and uplifting voice for Kentuckians.

Hampton addressed the hundreds in the crowd before being ceremonially sworn in as the state's next lieutenant governor.

Hampton spoke of her childhood in Detroit, where she was raised in poverty by a single mother. She said God sent her on an "incredible journey" from poverty to Kentucky's second highest elected official and she believes she was "sent to serve."

Hampton also said she looks forward to the "daunting task" of putting Kentucky on solid financial footing.
Bevin, who has never held public office, defeated Democrat Jack Conway in November. He started his political career by losing badly to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Senate primary.

Standing before the crowd, Bevin said "This is humbling, to say the least."

Bevin told the crowd they were there to watch a changing administration, which is common, but, "you're here to witness a fresh start for Kentucky as well."

The new governor took the podium and started by thanking the people who built the stage. He mentioned the people providing security. And the people who will clean up the area after the people are long gone.

"Thank you. Thank you," Bevin said before thanking the members of his transition team.

"This is our Kentucky," Bevin went on to say. "This is our opportunity to be the greatest version of ourselves. We have challenges ahead; I could run through a whole litany. Kentucky is better than that. Highest level of unfunded pension liability.
We are better than that."

The crowd applauded.

"We say we want a better Kentucky ... how badly do you want it?" he asked. "If you don't want it enough to sacrifice... heroes that have fallen in the line of duty... if we are not willing to
and frankly we won't deserve it."

Bevin said he wanted people to focus on "living out the golden rule."

"Extend a hand," he said. "Treat our Commonwealth in the pride that we take in our new automobile... this is our Commonwealth!"

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Governor Matt Bevin shaking hands along the parade route

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