CHARLESTON - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has the opportunity to take the state in a "bold" new direction, Senate President Jeff Kessler believes.
"After tough election cycles, we have chosen our leaders," Kessler, D-Glen Dale, said. "Gov. Tomblin now is placed in a position where he doesn't have to worry about re-election, and he can make some tough - possibly unpopular - decisions. He is in a position where he can do some bold things without retribution. The state is poised to do great things under his leadership."
Kessler, who succeeded Tomblin as Senate president, termed Monday's inauguration "dignified and befitting."
"It was not over the top," he said. "It was the third time in three years he was sworn in and inaugurated, so it was not flamboyant. Given the austere times, there was a cutback in terms of expense and size. It was a good symbolic show of leadership."
Del. Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, said he was encouraged that in his speech Tomblin spoke on education matters, and how Marcellus and Utica shale reserves are starting to improve the economy.
"He touched on the element of what's to come in the state, and the uncertainty of how things are going to go," Swartzmiller said. "Democrats and Republicans are seeing unity and that we're not that far apart. We just need to sit down at the table and find common ground."
State Sen. Robert "Rocky" Fitzsimmons, D-Wheeling, was appointed by Tomblin in late December. Monday's inauguration was the first Fitzsimmons had witnessed.
"It was really interesting to see the democratic process, and the peaceful transfer of power," he said. "West Virginia has a lot going for it with Marcellus shale drilling, and hopefully we can work to diversify our economy."
Del. Phillip Diserio, D-Brooke, added he also had not been to an inaugural event before.
"I was very impressed," he said. "I thought Gov. Tomblin's accolades to Sen. Rockefeller were very nice. The House is ready to go to work for the Northern Panhandle and hopefully for the state as a whole."
Del. Mike Ferro, D-Marshall, said Tomblin did an "exceptional job" in his speech.
"He talked of past accomplishments and his plans for the future of the state," Ferro said.
State Sen. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg, said Tomblin's comments that he would work to "protect coal" and "get Congress off our backs" brought a positive response from those present.
"The last couple of years have been a constant turmoil for him," Yost said. "We're going to see the real Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin now that the campaigning is over."